Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Connectivity - a modern addiction

I've just come back from a great few days away in the Derbyshire Peak District. The reason. No more than a short holiday with some of my wife's family. A big of walking, a bit of drinking, some great company, and switching off from the stresses of the job for a bit.

And it was great, especially switching off from work. But my problem is not just switching off from work, it's switching off full stop.

You see I'm a connectivity addict. One of the first things I checked about our holiday home, was whether it had internet access. Especially as the advertising bumpf suggested any sort of mobile signal was extremely unlikely - and it was right, there wasn't.

Thankfully, there was a BT hub in the cottage. Unfortunately, unless you were sitting on top of it, the signal dropped like a stone if you moved a few steps away from it. Given it was in a cupboard under the stairs, that made life very tricky.

Out and about, things were just as bad. My O2 signal barely flickered beyond "No service" or "Searching" for most of the time, and when it did lock on, it was generally GPRS at best.

Optimistically, the O2 web site listed mobile phone coverage on its network as "Good" to "Excellent" for the area. Perhaps they should come and try using a device there.

I just about got enough internet connection to feed my Twitter, Facebook, email, online news, and Skype & FaceTime (to keep in touch with our teenage kids) to feed my addiction, but it was touch and go. Most of all it held out during my streaming of Cardiff City vs Swansea City match - you won't believe how many brownie points I hope I gained by being on holiday when that match was on!

Everyone else in the group, frankly couldn't have given a monkeys about the flaky connectivity, and good for them, but for me, armed with my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro, it was a serious and at times twitchy matter. It was made slightly more so, by the fact our daughter was back at home on her own for the first time. She's old enough to look after herself, but it's always a scary moment when you leave your kids to look after themselves, alone for the first time - for them more so than us, especially when you can't ring because you haven't got a phone signal!

Is this something I need to see someone about? I'm not sure it is, but it's certainly indicative of modern life. I didn't want connectivity to keep on top of work - I can switch off from that easily enough, but it was everything else I couldn't switch off from. That ability to find out the news, not in a newspaper that tells you what happened yesterday, or even the 6pm news that tells you what's happened today. I want to know what's happening now, or at least at the moment I choose to know.

I'm safely back in the comfort of my Sky Fibre Broadband connected home, with a booming O2 signal to boot. And I'm happy. That's absolutely not to say I wasn't happy when I was away, I was, and I'd go again tomorrow. But connectivity is a modern blight. I'm 54 - I can imagine that if I was less interested in walking and country estates, and pubs ( ooh, free wifi there) it would have been a nightmare. But it wasn't. I survived.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini

Sunday, October 06, 2013

iPhone time

I've had my current iPhone ( a version 4) for almost 3 and a half years now, and it's showing signs of wear, tear and slowdown. It's time to upgrade, and I'm looking at an iPhone 5s. I've dallied with the idea of moving to Android, but I'm a die hard iPhone man at heart, and it complements my iPad Mini and Macbook Pro. I've got a birthday coming up to, so nows the best opportunity to get one. I don't expect one for my birthday, let's get that straight - they're a LOT of money, but a contribution in lieu of a gift wrapped present would be ideal..... Ooohh, shiny...

The need for speed

We've had broadband at Chez Statto for a few years. We had it when it was still known as ADSL. However, it's never been fast. Faster than my old dial up modem for sure, but never what you'd call zippy.  In fact today when I measured it, it was about 3.2 Mbps (if that means anything to you, on a package that's supposed to deliver me up to 8 Mbps.

So I've bitten the bullet and put in an order for Sky Fibre Broadband, with a top speed in the region of 38 Mbps (we'll see about that).

Fibre promises faster download (and upload speeds), less buffering when watching streamed content like BBC iPlayer and smoother faster video calls etc etc. Trying to video call our son in his University via Skype is a painful experience - it only works reasonably well if we both sit still and don't move a muscle!

Anyway, the point of this blog is to talk through the process and service. I'd researched what's out there. Virgin Media isn't yet supported in this area, and that really left BT and Sky. I'd looked at BT Infiniti before, and come pretty close to signing up, but didn't - the cost at the time was too high.

My current provider (BE Unlimited) has recently been taken over by Sky, so effectively I'm a Sky broadband customer now, with the official transition taking place early next year, but that would have been like for like. Already being into Sky for TV (Sky HD, multi-room) it seemed sensible to plump for them - they do the telephone stuff too, so I placed the order last night. It was a very slick and easy process online, and my confirmation email came through straight away.

I've booked for the 22nd Oct, a morning installation, and so will look forward to updating you on what happens on that day.

This morning I had an email from BE (with the Sky company footer), saying "It looks like something has gone wrong, BT have told us there's a cease date on your line for 22nd Oct". Clearly BE and Sky aren't quite joined up yet!

As an aside, I suppose I should consider shares in Sky. They get a fair whack off me already for TV, and now I can chuck in broadband and line rental. However, I won't be paying BE or BT, so on balance it's a coupe of quid cheaper for a (potentially) much faster broadband service). Lets wait and see.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

iOS 7: One day in

Like millions of others worldwide, I upgraded the OS to iOS7 yesterday on my iPhone 4 and iPad Mini. With less than 24 hours experience of the new OS, here are my initial, and very subjective impressions.

Lets get this one out of the way first. On my iPhone 4 which is almost three and a half years old, there are occasions when this shiny new OS is decidely laggy. That may be down to un-optimised apps (although the new iOS7 ready version of Facebook takes about 17 seconds to launch). It's more likely down to the ageing hardware. On the iPad Mini is zips along.

Ok, so here's the lowdown

The Good

  • It's a shiny new interface bring a much needed refresh to a perfectly capable but tired looking OS
  • The notification centre is FAR better and brings the iOS devices closer to what Android and other mobile users have had for a while
  • Ditto the ability to quickly and easily change key settings like wifi, BT etc.
  • Cool (but frankly nonfunctional animations as windows/apps open and close
  • The swipe to close apps in multi-tasking - hey where have I seen that before? Oh yes, Palm's WebOS about 6 years ago.....
  • A neat touch - on the iPad Mini at least - Messages where you don't have a photo for the contact show a grey circle with their initials
  • Apple's weather app - looks much better, though I still use the BBC weather app as my preferred choice

The Bad
  • Siri - never the greatest voice, but now sounds like he's talking through the back of a pillow after having downed eleven pints of lager (yes I know I can change it to that dreadful American woman's voice - or even a foreign language, as demonstrated by both my kids on their iPhones during a Siri-fest a few minutes ago)
  • The keyboard. 
    • The new keyboard is inconsistently applied throughout apps - most use the new one, some (including some of Apple's own - Pages for one) use the old version. Poor.
    • Because the new keyboard is less shaded and the fonts are much thinner, it feels smaller to me. I know it's an optical illusion and I'll get used to it. But that's how it feels at the moment
  • That shiny new interface? It looks like cartoons. Not yet convinced it's better than the old interface.
  • Suddenly after three years of swiping emails left to right to call up the delete button I have to swipe right to left. Why?
  • Reminders. Never the greatest app in the box, but it was vaguely functional (though I still can't get proper sync between my iPhone & my iPad Mini in this one app. Now it's far less intuitive (at least to me), and intuitiveness is something Apple prides itself on.
  • Moving app icons around the screens. This might just be down to my ageing hardware and iOS7's performance on it, but I've found it MUCH harder to accurately drag and drop app icons without putting them somewhere I didn't mean to.
On balance it looks as though there are more cons than pros - that's not necessarily the whole picture though. I'll get used to the OS and some of those concerns will go. There may be some early bugs that a future dot release will improve on.

On the whole, I think it's better.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Choices, choices

So the time has come. My iPhone 4 has served me admirably for almost 40 months, but it's time to change.

It still works. It still does the things I want it to do. But it is slowing down. Things that used to happen quickly seem to take longer - apps opening, screens refreshing etc. I did a restore a while back and it improved things a bit, but not much. It's starting to look a bit tired too. A couple of scratches here and there and some damage to the casing in a couple of places and a tiny crack on the topmost left of the screen. Hardly noticeable, but there nonetheless.

Apple have just announced two new phones. The "budget" 5C at a whopping £479 sim free. Essentially it's an iPhone 5 in a coloured case. And the 5S, same form factor as the current 5, with a choice of 3 case colours, but faster, better camera and a fingerprint scanner. If the 5C is budget, the 5S isn't. The cheapest variant weighs in at £549, £80 dearer than the 5C and £20 dearer than the current 5.

I've toyed with the idea of getting an Android device. The Galaxy S4 and HTC One look nice. They rock bigger screens than the iPhone, and Android has certainly come a long way, but.....

Despite those who say the iPhone is lagging behind, it isn't. I played with some Android phones in a shop today. They're good. Very good. But pick up an iPhone and it just oozes something the Android devices just don't have. It's not the OS. It's certainly not the hardware although Apples kit is still lovely stuff. It's something in the ether. It's smoother, silkier in use. It's comfortable to hold.

And the killer for me, is the seamless integration across my phone, my tablet (an iPad Mini) and my MacBook Pro itself now 4 years old but still a honey...

No, I'm afraid it's going to have to be Apple and the iPhone again. The only question is which variant. £549 is eye wateringly steep for a skinflint like me, but then it's "only" £80 more than the 5C which is effectively last years model in a new skin. As I change phones so rarely, the sensible choice would be to get the best I could afford.then again I could get the 5C with a view to upgrading when the iPhone 6 arrives next autumn.

Choices, choices.......

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Just stunning: Bluebirds 3-2 Manchester City

Goodness me, days like this don't come along very often.
The last time I watched the Bluebirds play Manchester City, we were in the 3rd Division when Nathan Blake scored the winner as we put out Premier League opposition in the 4th round of the 1994 FA Cup.
How different was today? Our first home match as Premier League new boys coming against the millionaires from the blue side of Manchester coming on the back of their 4-0 thumping of Newcastle, and our opening day 2-0 loss away at West Ham. They must have been full of confidence, and we - well in all honesty, many were thinking how many we could keep the score down by. But football's a funny game, and how we saw that today.
Our visitors saw two thirds of the possession, but came away with nothing after taking the lead, as goals from Gunnarson and Campbell (2) overturned the form and predictions.
The stadium was rocking. I don't think I have ever experienced an atmosphere like today's, and that includes the win over Leeds in the FA Cup, several Wembley visits and that play-off final at the Millenium Stadium against QPR. The noise today was incredible, and importantly, persistent. The crowd was fantastic throughout the match. The Sky TV commentators made many references to the atmosphere - Gary Neville in particular saying after Gunner equalised for us, "You'll have to go a long way to find a stadium that celebrates a goal like that".
The photo above shows things getting even better as son & daughter celebrate us going 3-1 up after Campbell's second.
There's no point in me talking about the match. 1) I'm not very good with match reports and 2) lots of other people are. All I will say, is every one of those players, Malky and backroom staff deserved today. everyone at the club has worked their socks off for this.
All I can say, is that this is a day that will live me for a very long time.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A watershed moment

Today is a watershed moment in Chez Stats. Child No.1 received his A level results, and to everyone's delight they were suitably good enough for him to be accepted at his first choice university, Reading in Berkshire to do Geography.

This means that in a couple of months time, we'll be rolling down the M4 from Cardiff, car laden with him plus whatever gumpf he wants and needs to take with him to start a new chapter in his life as a bonafide uni student.

It's an exciting, though probably also anxious stage in his life, but he'll settle down in the round of freshers events, make new friends and generally and hopefully enjoy his new found freedoms.

But it's also a new stage and chapter for me & Mrs H, and I suppose to a slightly lesser extent our 16 year old daughter. Jim has always been there - usually on the sofa in front of the TV, or in his room with his music and guitar, but from October he won't be. Ok, Reading isn't that far, and through the modern wonders that are Skype and Facetime we can probably video call him every day (if either party wants us to), but as is the way with these things, it'll never be the same as it has been.

That all sounds a bit gloomy, but it isn't meant to be. Sure, I reckon we'll mope around for a few days worrying about him, but he'll probably be out having a great time at the fresher's parties, the students union and other such stuff that kids do when they first go to uni.

And let's face it. It won't be long before his clothes need washing, or Cardiff City are playing a home game and either it'll be a quick pop up & down the motorway, or making use of is new student railcard.

Congratulations to him for getting the grades he needed. We're very proud of him. It'll be sad to see go, but to paraphrase  Arnie said...."He'll be back".

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Orlando 2013 - The Best Bits

So, after a fortnight in Orlando/Miami, what are the highlights (and a few lowlights). Here, in no particular order are a few of my thoughts:


  • Generally easy
  • Good signing
  • Ability to turn right on a red light
  • U turns
  • No hassle sitting in any lane
  • Very cheap gas (petrol)
  • Automatic is easy
  • Sat nav (I used Co-Pilot) makes any trip so easy. It was faultless throughout
  • Big parking bays
  • Huge portions (too big often) - we shared many a dessert rather than have one each
  • Quality of food in restaurants generally very good, and usually exceptional
  • Cheap compared to UK (our friend had a 20 oz rib eye steak for about $20 - that's about £13)
  • The restaurants we went to on Highway 192, Kissimmee)
    • Texas Roadhouse
    • Bonefish Grill
    • TGI Fridays
    • The Olive Garden
    • Bahama Breeze
  • The restaurants we went to in Miami (just off Ocean Drive)
    • The Big Pink
    • Joe's Stone Crab
Best Rides/Attractions
  • Kraken (coaster - Seaworld)
  • Hulk (coaster - Islands of Adventure)
  • Rip Ride Rocket (coaster - Universal)
  • Cheetah Hunt (coaster - Busch)
  • Sheikra (coaster - Busch)
  • Harry Potter Forbidden Journey (simulator - Universal)
  • Simpsons (simulator - Univeral)
  • Men in Black (shoot em up - Universal)
  • Coopertown Airboats, Miami
  • Customer service (usually) exceptional
  • Garbage disposal
  • Chilling out on Miami Beach
  • Flying Virgin Atlantic - cant fault them
  • The lightning - spectacular - shame it comes with clouds and rain!
The not so great
  • The rain - expect it in Florida in July, but it rained a lot more than expected. Still, it didn't unduly hamper us, just wish we'd seen some more blue sky
  • The humidity - sapping - remember to drink lots and lots
  • The new Antarctic Ride at Seaworld - quite disappointing
  • The queues - I know, I know. You're going to get queues if you go to Orlando theme parks and big ones if you go in the summer - doesn't make it any easier though, although I think we did OK due to some careful planning and a bit of luck
  • Orlando International Airport - on the way home - seemed a bit chaotic and disorganised

Orlando 2013 - Last day and trip home

So, the holiday is over. Boo....

We were up and cleared and tidied the villa before being out by about 9.45am (had to be out by 10). As the flight wasn't until 7.35pm we decided to go to Seaaworld for a few hours, as it was on the way.

It was blisteringly hot and very humid with it. We saw the Shamu (Orca), Blue Horizons (dolphins) and Clyde & Seymour (Sea Lions) shows, and had the added bonus of The Kraken coaster being surprisingly quiet so got tow consecutive "walk ons".

After a late hot dog lunch, we made our way to Orlando International, and returned the Alamo hire car - all very easy. We'd done online check in the night before, so only had to do bag drop, but as on the way out, I can't really see the difference between the two.

Through security easily enough, and then we made the mistake of going straight through to the terminal rather than staying in the shopping area. There were shops "airside" but disappointingly few, and very little seating apart from right at the gate. We killed a couple of hours, before we wandered to the gate area. here things went a bit awry. For one, I'd bought some duty free fags for a friend but here you don't get them when you buy them, you get them as you board (via a supplied receipt). I suppose this is to stop people buying duty free alcohol and then necking it before the flight. Can't see why they held the fags though. Even if I wanted to (which I don't, because I don't smoke), can't see me smoking 400 in a no smoking area before boarding!

Then the flight was delayed by about 45 mins because the plane wasn't ready. On top of that the girl at the desk had a really odd accent and was wholly unintelligible so no one knew what was going on. Anyway, eventually boarded, and the 7 hr 50m flight was pretty uneventful. Into Gatwick just after 9am, out to the carny just after 10, and back home in Cardiff by 1pm.

Garden's a mess, loads of washing to do. Mrs H back in work tomorrow, but I have a day off, so chores for me!

When's the next holiday?

Check out our photos here...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini

Friday, July 26, 2013

Orlando 2013 - Days 11-14

To be honest we've had a pretty lazy second week. After the day out at Busch, we have had a couple of lazy days by the pool in the villa, interspersed with a couple of trips out to Universal/Islands of Adventure to do the rides we'd missed that we wanted to do (Transformers, ET, Spider-Man, the Hulk) and re-do Harry Potter. We've also redone the Simpsons, The Revenge of the Mummy, MIB and some others. Phew....

On the down side, one of our friends sons has acquired an ear infection that took a trip to the doctors and some antibiotics. He's feeling better now.

The temperature has risen also. It was hot (if wet anyway). After getting in the car at Busch with the dash showing 106°F, today after a few hours on the top of the Universal car park, it was registering a ridiculous 114°C - that's in excess of 45°C!

Now though its packing and tidying up. We have to be out of the villa by 10am tomorrow, although our flight isn't until 7.30pm. We'll probably spend a few hours at Seaworld to pass the time.

It's been a good holiday. The heat and humidity has been sapping, and I had a tummy bug in the first week, and haven't actually felt 100% all fortnight. But it's been great nonetheless, but all good things come to an end.

Last day tomorrow, and back in Blightly on Sunday morning.

The photo below is the start of the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket Coaster at Universal. Awesome as they say (a lot) around here!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini

Monday, July 22, 2013

Orlando 2013 - Days 9-10

Day 10 was a rest day. After a bit of early morning pool activity, our friends went off shopping to a mall, and we went off to the local Wal Mart to stock up for tea, as we were cooking.
And that apart, was about that. A pretty lazy, but very enjoyable day.
Today we hit the I4 south again as we headed to Tampa and Busch Gardens. We all love Busch. It's got some good animal stuff and some great coasters.
It's probably worth just mentioning at this point how easy driving in the US is. Everything is pretty well signposted, and with a sat nav (I've been using "Co-Pilot on my iPhone), it's pretty much impossible to go wrong, We've driven a lot - round Orlando, down to Miami, across to Tampa, and we haven't really been troubled once.
First up, we did the newest coaster, Cheetah Hunt. When I say "we", I mean me and my daughter. Our friends had got a little lost looking for another ride, and my wife and son are not coaster fans. Nor is my daughter, but she was determined to do this. It was great. Not the biggest by a long way, but fast and twisty with only one loop.
After that we did "Rhino Rally" a sort of cheesy safari ride in a jeep. It was a bit disappointing because they'd halved the ride to make space for the Cheetah Hunt ride.
On from there we had a virtual walk on to the "Kumba" coaster - old now but still a favourite. Next door we all did the "Congo River Rapids" tube ride and all got very, very wet! Then we wandered down and did the log flume at "Stanley Falls", before the big one. Sheikra. This monster coaster has to be seen to be believed. 8 across in three tiered seats it takes you steeply up 200ft, before hanging you over a vertical drop for a few seconds and then let's you go. It's a short ride, but as they say here "totally awesome!".
After a quick lunch, we took the cable car to the Egypt area and rode on the second biggie, "Montu". By then, with the temps in the high 90's°F we'd had enough and started home.
As we drove north on the I4 the sky darkened and we were treated to a spectacular lightning show. just as we arrived back at the villa resort, the heavens opened. I've literally never seen rain like it - ever! We must have had about 3-4 inches in about half an hour. The pool, normally has a lip of about 4 inches before the water. Now it looks like an infinity pool. Staggering.
Storms passing now, so we might get some pool time in. Eating in again tonight, so beer and a chill.
A good day.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Orlando 2013 - Days 7-8

Friday morning dawned, if not bright, at least not raining. Breakfast done, the two Das walked down Ocean Drive (how cool does that sound?) where we booked tickets for the "Pirate Duck Tour". This is a vaguely pirate themed road/boat trip around Miami Beach/Biscayne Bay in an amphibious DUCK vehicle. More on this later.

Back at the hotel is was pool time, with the morning spent chilling, as eventually, the sun and blue skies did show. The good lady and I also walked along the beach to South Pointe.

In the afternoon, it was back down Ocean Drive for the tour pickup. Cheesy though it sounds,it was a fab experience. Our guide was on top form, and knew his stuff on Art Deco and the waterside homes of the rich and famous. It was money well spent for this great tour.

In the evening we had a fantastic meal at "Joe's Stone Crab", just round the corner from the hotel. It was expensive compared to other meals we have eaten, but boy were those killer king crab claws, lobster tail and stone crab claws lush! Another big tick in the "glad we did that" box.

Checkout time on Saturday morning saw us drive though Miami and out onto the Tamiani Trail to Coopertown Airboats (through yet another thunderstorm). It's a slightly odd setup. On one hand it looks a bit ramshackle and, lets face it, seedy, but on the other hand, the experience was great. There was a pre ride talk from one of the guides shoring and talking about alligators and snakes and there's clearly an affinity with the animals, including one huge 'gator that's over 60 years old. The airboat ride itself was great. The youngish skipper, Dan drove us out into the glades and stopped in the middle of nowhere and welcomed us to "my office" - class. He was very knowledgable about the flora and fauna, and found us a real live wild alligator. Nature of course doesn't always play. Afterwards we got to hold a real live 'gator about 3feet long, called "Gucci"! This trip was again well worth doing - I thought it was fantastic.

After that it was a long drive back up US27 to Orlando. Off to TGI's now, and a rest day on our itinerary tomorrow. We'll see how it pans out.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini

Friday, July 19, 2013

Orlando 2013 - Day 6

Up with the lark. Ok, perhaps not, but after a lazy-ish start, today was road trip day. A drive to Miami beckoned, with a 2 night stay at the South Beach Marriott on Ocean Drive, courtesy off our friend who virtually has to live in a Marriott most of the year due to work (marvellous Marriott points).
We took the "scenic" route from Orlando down US 27. However, for scenic read slightly less bork than the Florida Turnpike or the interstate. 245 miles of mainly straight-ish dual carriageway interrupted by occasional traffic lights. It was either looking at golf cart sales lots, citrus groves or sugar cane fields.
We went through one huge downpours on the way, and despite heading towards Miami saw virtually no blue sky. 100% cloud all the way.
Driving in the US is pretty straightforward. With a decent sat nav it's a cinch. We eventually found our way to the hotel on Ocean Drive (yes, THE Ocean Drive).
Locked and loaded we went for a walk down the Drive past restaurants and bars frequented by all sorts, including a surprising number of women sporting Cuban cigars. A walk back down the beach saw thunder clouds threaten but we made it back to the hotel before the mother of all thunderstorms arrived - just!
We ate out at "The Big Pink", a themed diner type restaurant. Good value, good food, but again it has to be said, the American portions are ridiculous. On average I reckon at least 1/3rd oversized by the amount we left - and that's with no starters or desserts. Nice touches though. Anyone ordering alcohol automatically got a large glass of water as well, and customer service was as usual in the US exemplary. The UK could sure learn a thing or two here.
Back to the hotel, for a nightcap (or two), before retiring to a very comfy bed where I'm writing this. That me done though folks. Good night.
Photographic proof of our location! The kids...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Orlando 2013 - Days 3-5

First time we've been to Universal, and a great time was had by all. We arrived pretty early, and had a plan hatched for the rides we wanted to do.

First up was "The Simpsons", a fab simulator ride we all did, despite there being a few in the party not keen on drops or anything resembling a coaster. From there it was a walk on to "Men in Black", a superb 'shoot up the aliens' ride.

We then progressed to "Revenge of the Mummy", an indoor coaster. Despite reservations from some, everyone did this and following it all said they loved it (and we returned to do it again later in the day).

By now, the coaster freaks were getting twitchy, and legged it over to "Rip Ride Rocket". If you don't know about this one, Google it. The start is a vertical (i.e. sit on car literally goes up vertically (with you sitting or rather lying) looking straight up for 17 storeys, before rolling over the top and plummeting you down into superb, but fast coaster experience. Awesome, and not as scary as it looks - honest.

We also did "Shrek" a 3D show which was Ok, but not brilliant and the "Terminator" - part 3D, part show, which was great. A second stint of the "Mummy" and "MIB" was also done.

In the early afternoon a huge thunderstorm hit, so we called it a day. In the evening we ate at the local "Texas Roadhouse". Steaks & ribs to die for.

Unfortunately, I succumbed at some stage to a nasty tummy bug which changed our plans as we swapped Wednesday's rest day to Tuesday. Frankly it was all I could do to lie on my bed. The others went shopping or chilled by the pool. There was another huge thunderstorm in the afternoon.

Feeling a little better, but still delicate, we descended on Islands of Adventure on Wednesday morning and headed straight for "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter". All sources say this simulator ride gets huge queues, and despite being in the park for 8.30am, the 'line' was already at 75 mins when we got to it. It was sort the wait though. Once through the outer queuing, you enter a brilliantly themed 'Hogwarts’, before a fantastic and quite dramatic simulator ride.

having done the ride and bought some butter beer, the wuss's did the "Flight if the Hippogriff" ride, a fairly tame and short coaster, whilst the daredevils opted for the rather more furious "Dueling Dragons". Still a bit under the weather I opted out of both and stocked up on fluids.

After this we walked round to the "Jurassic Park" ride. This is. Boat ride though the park past the more gentle dinosaurs before it inevitably all goes horribly wrong and you end up with the raptors and T-Rex. At this point you're plunged down a huge slide that ends with an enormous splash. Great fun and. Not too wet.

Most of us wanted to do "Ripsaw Falls" next, but a 90 min wait put us off. "Popeye & Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges" on the other hand had a 20 min wait (though turned out nearer 30). And on this one you DO get wet. VERY wet! It was a blast even though we we all soaked to the skin.

After the usual park lunch of burgers and sodas, a long wait for "Spider-Man" put us off and we opted for "The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad" an action and stunt show. It was OK, but no where near as good as "Indiana Jones" at Disney's MGM Studios.

A quick trip back to Potter-land for sweets and that was us done. We'll probably be back to both Universal and IoAon this trip, but for the next 3 days a trip to Miami calls. We're booked in for 2 nights at the Marriott South Beach, courtesy of our friends.

So out for. Nice meal tonight, then a lazy drive down the US 27 tomorrow to Miami. Cool.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Orlando 2013 - days 1 and 2

Got to Gatwick in plenty of time, and did the usual mooching around and had a bite to eat before being called for boarding. We were on a Boeing 747 and seated in "the bubble" (upstairs). I have to say the flight was probably one of the best I've ever made. Very comfortable, good service from the Virgin cabin staff and loads of choices on the in flight entertainment. I watched two films, "Reacher" and "Olympus has Fallen". Flight time was a relatively quick 8 hours and we landed at 4.40pm Florida time.
Immigration was a pain (it always is), and there's a quite frankly pointless secondary inspection point once through main immigration. Once through it was on to the Alamo garage to pick the car up, a relatively painless exercise having done everything online before leaving. The biggest hassle was choosing the car - went for a red Chevy Impala in the end.
Straightforward drive to the villa, where the problems of the new owner handover reared their head again as the provided key code didn't work. Quick call sorted that once we remember how to call an American number on a UK phone, and we were in.
Once rooms divvied up a quick trip to the local Publix saw us stocked up for at least one night. Went to bed about 9.30pm, but in reality it was 2.30am UK time!
Up with the lark at 7am (was actually awake at 5am) and after getting ready we drove to Seaworld for "rope drop". We all love SW, having been there probably 5-6 times before. Had a great day on the coasters (Manta and Kraken), and the fantastic dolphin and Killer whale shows, as well as loads else. We all agreed though that the new Antarctic attraction was pretty disappointing. Big ques and not much substance (in our opinion).
Has been very hot, sunny at times but also very humid. Going out for tea later, and probably going to Universal tomorrow.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Orlando 2013 - the week before departure

Tomorrow we set off on our trip to Florida (Orando & Miami) with our good friends and their family. 9 of us all told, 5 of them and 4 of us. This will be our 3rd trip to Orlando, and the second one with our friends - though they were there at the same time as us on our first trip in 2004.
This trip's been about 10 or 11 months in the making, and has after seeming so far away, the last few weeks have flown by. The last week, when we should be topping & tailing everything though, has not been without it's problems.
Firstly our friends eldest returned from University a week and a bit ago, to find his passport was 'damaged'! An urgent appointment with the passport office has sorted that - just.
Secondly, my car, which we're driving down to Gatwick in, has recently started showing 'engine malfunction' errors (but appeared driving ok). In for diagnostics is week, the fault tracked to a failure of the engine management system to regenerate the diesel particulate filter or DPF (too much science for me frankly). It's sorted now, but could have been a nightmare if broke down on M4 on way to airport on Saturday morning, and I could have done without the expense of having this done this week.
Then lastly,we had an email from the villa owners on Tuesday to say they'd sold the property! Some frantic comms later by our friends established everything ok, but it was a hell of a shock and worry when we heard about it.
But now we're about ready to go. I have a trip to London today that I could do without (actually writing this in the train), and I won't be back until gone 8pm, but that comes with the territory.
This time tomorrow though, we'll be on the M4 en route to Gatwick - and excited. Bring it on!
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Eternal City

No, this in't anything to do with "that" City - Cardiff City, but rather a recount of a long weekend Anne & I have just spent in "the" Eternal City - Rome. We went ostensibly on the back of it being our 20th wedding anniversary this year (though not until the end of May) - how time flies!

We flew out via Bristol on Easyjet, often maligned, but it does what it says on the tin. From dank dull UK, we arrived at Fiumicino airport in 20 degrees plus. A quick and easy train on the Leonardo Express took us into Rome's central Termini station. All the guides and info tells you to be on your guard because of pickpockest and hawkers. I can see why - the place is heaving. We had no problems though and walked the 5 mins to our hotel, the highly recommneded Artimede Hotel on Via Nazionale.

The hotel was great - not the cheapest, but everything about it was good. It's also very central for the sights. All the main sights - Fontana de Trevi, Colosseum, Spanish Steps etc are within 15 - 30 mins walk (recommend walking to see the real Rome). The Vatican which we also visited is further away - we took the Metro, but actually walked back - a bit further but easily do-able at a slow, sightseeing amble.

The full set of photos from our visit are here, but be warned, there's over 230 of them - just see the overview and pick the ones that take your fancy!

Food and drink was predictably expensive, although the restaurant we went o on our first night, Giovanni's was very reasonable - and quite traditional, recommended if you ever go that way. My review here.

There were two downsides - both to be expected, and one linked to the other. Firstly, the crowds. The place was absolutely heaving. You're not going to get any of these sites to yourself - unless you go at 4am in the morning, and probably not even then. If crowds aren't your thing, don't go. Otherwise, just go with the flow.

And because there are crowds  there are people trying to flog you stuff at every opportunity. It's hard to go more than 10 yards without some street hawker trying to sell you something. There appears to be an order. Lowest are the beggars. Sitting outside churches, on streets just holding out a cup. Next up are the migrant immigrants throwing "splat" balls onto pieces of card. Why anyone would want o buy one is beyond me. How they make a living out of it is even further beyond my imagination. Next up the line are those selling umbrellas (even if you're carrying or using one!), shawls, pictures, watches - you name it they've got it. Top of the tree are the professional scammers - people who often appear quite respectable, offering to help you out at ticket machines and then demanding payment for helping you - we didn't actually see this, but have heard reports.  Bottom line is walk past, and ignore them all. Don't be taken in, and keep your hand on your wallet and bags.

Having said that, we had no trouble. Concentrate on the good. Be prepared to wander off into side streets to see the real Rome. The scale of the buildings, especially the churches which appear on every corner is mind blowing. Even if you're not religious, go into some and look around. It's staggering.

Top tips:

  • Travel - by single tickets for the metro - it's unlikely you'll need to make many, metro trips, and you can go anywhere for a Euro (75 min time limited).
  • Walk - take comfortable shoes - you'll be on your feet a lot.
  • Keep water about you - there are drinking fountains (not the big fountains) around the City where you can fill up.
  • Go a few streets away from the main tourist traps before using a cafe/pizzaria - otherwise be prepared to pay through the nose
  • Book Vatican museum tickets online before you go.Then it's as near as darn it a walk up. Otherwise either a) go VERY early, or b) be prepared for a 2hr+ wait
Just enjoy - we did!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bluebirds fly to Premier League

And so the dream is realised! After a season in which we've led the way since November, Cardiff City, the Bluebirds, sealed promotion to the Premier League last night following a 0-0 draw with Charlton in front of 26,300 ecstatic fans.

All the off field issues were put aside as red joined blue on the pitch - we are Cardiff City, and nothing will ever take that away.

Whether you've been a supporter for decades, or are a recent convert to the Bluebirds faithful, nothing will have ever surpassed the feeling at the final whistle.
It's really true. Next season we'll be welcoming Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, Everton, Spurs and more to the CCS to show them some Cardiff hospitality!

It's been a long time coming with some near misses and huge disappointments along the way. I've watched City play in all four divisions of the League, and remember some pretty grim days on the terraces back in the 80’s. Now, we're up their, on merit, with the big boys. What a thrill that's going to be.

It'll be tough no doubt. We'll need strengthening no doubt. We're already favourites to go back down. But we are Cardiff City. We're nothing if not resilient. And just now, with the Championship Title in our grasp, we're savouring the moment.

I still can't quite believe it.


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Sunday, April 14, 2013

City 3 - 0 Forest: The fat lady is gargling and reaching for her mike.....

And so, we're almost there.If we hadn't conceded that goal against Barnsley four seconds from the end of added time last Tuesday we would be there. But we did, and that's history. But it doesn't matter now...

This was another huge game for the Bluebirds and us, their long suffering and very nervous fans. Forest, under the diminutive Billy Davies hadn't lost in 10, and were on their own charge of sorts into the play-offs. City simply had to beat them to re-assert their long time tag as Champions elect and put the disappointment from the match against the Tykes behind them.

I was very nervous about this game, and with both Hull in 2nd and Watford in 3rd rarely of late looking like losing, I think I had some reason to be.

A purported maximum crowd had turned up for this one including significant Forest support. I'm not going to report on the game in detail - there are lots of other people who blog and report on that sort of thing much better than me. I will though mention some key moments.

Heidar's opening goal was a beautifully cushioned header from an equally exquisite Bellamy cross that settled the nerves. Darius Henderson's slip when he stepped on the ball and Marshall's quick reaction to smother it was another - had that gone in with the game at 1-1 and 22 men on the pitch who knows where it could have gone? But it didn't, and shortly afterwards Henderson's dismissal for a flapping arm that caught Helguson had a huge effect on the game.

City at times have been shaky defending a 1-0 lead (cue recall to Barnsley on Tuesday where they sank deeper and deeper, Dave Jones like, until the inevitable happened), but this day they did what we expect of a side chasing promotion. They took the game to Forest. They made superb use of the extra space against the 10 men, and how. They dominated the 2nd period, and Rudy's introduction for Helguson at the break, whether tactical or because of injury, tuned into a brilliant decision, as the gangly youngster powered two headers past the Forest keeper in a spell where the CCS was rocking. How we didn't put a few more on the board is anyone's guess. Kim in particualr was outstanding, and is perhaps one of the best, if not the best midfield player in this division. This was City near their best. Yes, with a man advantage, but it was how they kept pressuring and how they kept control which was so impressive. They didn't really give Forest another sniff

The afternoon was made so much better by the news filtering through from London Road that Watford, the only team that could catch us apart from Hull being beaten 3-0 by lowly Peterborough. In the end that finished a nervy 3-2 to Posh, but that now means that Watford can only draw level on points with us providing they win their remaining 4 games and we lose all 4 of ours. Possible, but unlikely.

And so we move to next Tuesday and a home game against Charlton. A point or better for us, or anything but a Watford win away at Millwall, and promotion to the top flight is assured for the first time in 51 years.

Cardiff City in the Premiership? Yes please, I'll have some of that!


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Website update

I look after a couple of websites for some friends. I've used various systems in the past, but have recently converted one of them using the free Weebly system. It's dead simple, requires no (or virtually no) technical knowledge and "just works".

I've been very impressed with it. You can see the results here Hendre Eynon

I can see my others sites moving this way too.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Big win - and in style

Cardiff City moved a step nearer to promotion today with a fine 3-0 win over struggling Blackburn Rovers.

Despite sitting top of the table since November, City have at times ground out results, and only the most blind of supporters could argue that the Bluebirds football of later has been of any real quality. But, at the end of the day it's results that count, and city started the day four points clear of Hull who play Watford tomorrow.

Today though, City combined the result - a massive three points after a disappointing loss two days ago away at Peterbrough, with as good a performance as we've seen in months.

Malky made a couple of big selection decisions, including dropping Whitts to the bench and putting the arguably under-used Kimbo & the patchy Mutch into midfield. Those decisions though proved perfect (which is why Malky is a manager and I'm not) with both players stepping right up to the plate, and Kimbo deservedly getting man of the match.

That though doesn't do justice the the rest of the Bluebirds on the pitch. Every player turned up today. It's also the first time I'd seen loan defender Leon Barnett in the flesh, and I thought he too was outstanding.

For me there was greater movement off the ball, a willingness to run into the channels and just greater speed of thought. Blackburn are a good team on paper, but a 15 minute spell in the second half apart, City controlled the game and closed the visitors down quickly to a point where David Marshall's goal was rarely threatened.

Frazier Campbell's first half opener from 2 yards was well deserved after persistent pressure, and some frantic defending and ropey goalkeeping from Kean in the Blackburn goal.

So 1-0 at half time, and though Rovers rarely threatened, the comfort of a second didn't come until substitute Jo Mason's sublime finish on 86 minutes, and the cream topping came with a stoppage time Whitt's penalty (which will make him feel a lot better). City should have had a penalty earlier when Turner was kicked in the face two yards inside the area only for ref and linesman to bottle the decision and give a free kick a foot outside he box. Still, in the end it didn't matter.

All in all then a highly satisfactory performance. there's a big match tomorrow when 2nd placed Hull play 3rd placed Watford - a Hull win please - and then Another crunch game on Saturday with City away to Watford.

As you were. City top of the league. Mind the gap!

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Promised Land

Surely Cardiff City can't chuck it away now? 9 games left in the Championship season, and City sit top of the pack, 7 points clear and more importantly 9 points clear of third and with a game in hand.

So often the "nearly men" in the last few seasons, it looks like the Bluebirds are finally going to make it to the promised land of the Premiership. And without wanting to count my chickens, it looks like years of aspiration will finally come to fruition.

Statistics rarely lie over the course of a marathon season, and City have ground out the points they need to sit at the head of the division. "Ground out" is the key here. City have, few games apart set the league apart with their fantasy football, but what they have had this year is strength and depth that's been lacking in seasons past.

So many times in the past we've looked at the bench on match days and thought there's no-one there who's going to change a game. This year, we've been bemoaning how such quality players as Kim, Mason, Helguson, even Bellamy at times, haven't been in the starting line up.

It's not over of course until the fat lady sings, but surely she's at least clearing her throat?

Up the City

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Thursday, March 07, 2013

White Focus Man

To the gentleman in the white 62 plate Ford Focus who was driving (and I use that term very loosely) behind me on the M4 westbound between junctions 30 and 33 tonight at about 5.15pm.

Firstly an acknowledgement. I was probably going faster than I needed to, but the traffic was moving at speed anyway. My car is in good order, and I've got new rubber on all 4 wheels.

Secondly, you're an imbecile.

If you remember, the road conditions weren't great. Misty rain and heavy traffic at rush hour don't make a great combination. You'll remember when you came up behind me I was in the outside lane with heavy traffic in front. Naturally, I was keeping a safe distance from the car in front as always, but especially mindful of the poor conditions. You're normally taught this when you learn to drive, but perhaps you missed that lesson.

For your information, as you may have forgotten this, the safe stopping distance (in the dry) at 70mph is about 315ft or 24 car lengths, not the 1-2 car lengths you were behind me. But hey, you're probably immune to this and can stop on a sixpence.

Intermittent braking from the traffic in front made life harder, and with two busy sections (the J32 off slip and the on slip the other side of the interchange) it was appropriate for me to stay in the outside lane as I was going faster than the traffic on the inside lanes. It would have been hard to go inside anyway as no one was leaving any space, but you probably didn't notice that being too busy abusing me.

So I kept pace with the traffic in front of me (plus my safe stopping distance). However, you clearly thought this was highly inappropriate behaviour from me given that:

  1. The fact I was leaving enough safe stopping distance meant other cars were nipping into that space 
  2. You were rarely more than two car lengths from my back bumper
  3. The "wanker" signs you were gesticulating through your windscreen at me as you hunched over your steering wheel.
So when the opportunity finally arose, I pulled into the middle lane, and let you past, whereupon you then raced up to within about 6 feet of the car that had been in front of me, and presumably started the process all over again.

Your complete an utter disregard for the safety of the way you drive clearly makes you a class A bellend. Much though it pains me to say it though, I just hope you're not enough of a bellend to have ended up bonnet deep in someone else's boot. It would have damaged their car.

People like you shouldn't be allowed on the road.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

City 1 - 1 Derby

A few things stood out for me tonight.

1. City were awful for most of the 90. They could hardly string three passes together, they gave the ball away, and they hoofed it rather than playing on the floor.

2. Derby were poor. But our failings made them look good.

3. The officials, and particularly the ref, were abysmal. Some of his decisions (both ways) were beyond belief.

4. The atmosphere was terrible part from a few minutes at the end when City finally found some urgency.

5. The red in the stadium had all but disappeared tonight

On the plus side, we're still top, we're five points clear with a game in hand. hat games comes next Tuesday, and we could really do with a confidence booster against Leicester. Hudson should be back which is a relief. The back four look very shaky without him. Bellamy will hopefully be back. We missed his energy and work rate tonight. I'd also consider playing Kimbo. Whitts is far of the form we know he can have, and we could do with a bit of craft and guile there. I can't see Malky dropping Whitts, so harsh though it might be, I'd probably leave Gunnar out. But I'm not the manager, and we'll see what transpires.

We need a win though. Watford's great run is continuing, and Hull are sure to bounce back. Palace are getting back into it. We have to keep believing and just do better than everyone else. It doesn't have to be pretty (though it helps). It's results that count. Come on City!


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Saturday, March 02, 2013

Boro 2 - 1 City

I had a bad feeling about today, and so it proved, with City going down 2-1 at the Riverside. We're still 5 points ahead with a game in hand, which ordinarily should be something to be cheery about, but i get the jitters easily. It's going to be a big game on Tuesday against Derby.

I only caught brief updates via the radio and Twitter as I've been out and about a lot today, but it sounded like all the damage was done early with some poor defending. Hudson out was a big miss, so we need him back asap.

On the positive side it sounds as though we were far better in the second half, and battered them towards the end doing all but score, but it's scoring that counts, not the pressure or chances.

Onwards and upwards. Still top. Still clear. One game less to go.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cardiff City: The road to heaven or the road to hell?

The time has come. I have kept my counsel whilst Cardiff's Malaysian backers have changed the team colour, the badge and now, though not confirmed (and apparently denied this afternoon) all things are pointing to an eventual change of name. Even if that's not the case, enough speculation has been created for people to assume that's where this is eventually going.

I'm not a lifelong supporter. I've only been in Cardiff for 33 of my 53 years. I'm not even Welsh. I started going down to Ninian Park for the odd game in the mid 80's. It wasn't until I started taking my son when he was 6 in 1999 that I got a season ticket (for both of us), and we've been ST holders ever since. I consider myself to be a dyed in the wool, "City til I die" supporter.

Times have been tough. I've stood on the Bob Bank with less than 1,800 in the ground. Ah, those concrete toilets with no roof. What great times they were *cough*.

Times have been good. I was there when Blake curled in his winner against Man City, when Scott Young fired home against Leeds and who can ever forget that memorable day at the Millennium Stadium when a rare Andy Campbell goal took us up to what is now the Championship (hey, anyone remember that rebrand)?

I've also seen some dodgy people masquerading as football owners and Chairman over the years. But when Dato Tien Ghee (TG) arrived on the scene, the possibilities of money from abroad were welcomed with open arms by most fans. TG's likeability and his enthusiasm for the club was evident, although we were sure he wasn't the front man. It seemed at last that unlike previously, the club was being managed properly for once, and from a point almost of extinction, we started to rise Phoenix like from the ashes. Well that might be a metaphor to far, but you get the gist. There was no rash rush into administration with a 10 point hit and start over, but careful considered, or so it seemed, financial management aimed at resolving City's long standing debt problems. Success in terms of getting to the Premiership remained elusive, but we were regularly, to use a "Claridgism", there or there abouts.

Bolstered by the appointment of the excellent Malky Mackay as manager, the owners including the now visible front man, billionaire Malaysian business Vincent Tan, appeared to be steadying the ship. As well as reassurances about finances they had negotiated the Cardiff Blues away from CCS so that it was just a football venue and they seemed to have the full support and backing of the fans.

The future looked bright, and it looked blue.

Then almost immediately after our play-off loss last year rumours started to fly by fans "in the know" that a re-brand was being considered and that Cardiff City would be playing in red in the 2013/14 season.

Oh how we laughed.

But the rumours persisted and indeed were confirmed. There was a great deal outrage, although it was by far from universal but enough to force a pause and apparent rethink. TG told us that due to the feedback that the decision was reversed and we would be back in blue this season.

Oh how we cheered.

But then then that was thrown back in our faces. In a U turn on the U turn Vincent Tan had apparently said that continued investment in the club was wholly conditional on the rebrand. "Red or I walk", or words to that effect. Oh, and the badge had to change to, to something that looked like a badly drawn beermat, with a big red dragon and a tiny almost invisible Bluebird.

Some of the fan base declared that was enough and that they'd boycott City until we went back to blue, and there is no doubt that some have walked. However, looking at the crowds down at CCS this year, it's apparent that it's not as many as some might have you believe.

The majority, including me and my son begrudgingly accepted that if playing in red was the price of success, so be it. It was after all still Cardiff City. Same stadium, same players (as much as any club has the same players year in year out), same manager etc.

And the success has come.....nearly. Currently top of the league, and amid cries of "mind the gap", The Bluebirds look a certain bet for promotion to the hallowed Premiership.

But then a funny thing happened. Or not, depending on your view. Vincent Tan decided to give a free red scarf branded "Cardiff" to every supporter at the home game against Brighton with a promise that there would be one season ticket refund every home game for the rest of the season to a lucky fan if photographed wearing or waving the scarf. Some people merely saw this as a freebie. Some hailed the omission of the word "City" from the scarf as an obvious sign that a name change was next up. Most just saw it as a cynical marketing ploy.

Cynical marketing ploy or not, it worked. On the day, almost everyone I saw took one - some took several (wearing my blue City scarf in a gesture of pitifully small protest I declined, as did my son - he's 18 now and can make his own choice).

This in effect turned the majority of the stadium red. It felt surreal that night, it looked surreal, despite the fact we'd been playing in red all season to see the CCS, home of the Bluebirds, bedecked in red. For some who's allegiance had been in the balance this was a tipping point. The scarf giveaway, the stadium in red was the last straw.

To those who say these are "plastic" supporters, new fans, only interested in the Premiership, I say get a grip. they are not. You don't get a totally new fanbase of that size just like that. They are in the main long term City fans. And anyway, there's no number on the years of service you have to have been supporting a club to make you a worthy fan. Each person can make their own decision, and I for one am not going to judge anyone on their choice, although there are times when I wish that people having made their choice (either way) would just button up.

But then just when it seems Vincent Tan has got the majority of fans on board (albeit begrudgingly), it seems that the next trick up his sleeve, and many of the blue persuasion will say they saw this coming, is to "consider" changing the name of the club from Cardiff City to the "Cardiff Dragons".  Actually, what he said was more along the lines of "let's see where we are at the end of the season".  Hmmm...

Whilst this is far from written in stone, coming out of a BBC interview, there is usually no smoke with fire. Then, in an apparent about face (this seems to happen quite a lot) the man himself issued a statement this afternoon to the effect that a change of name is NOT in his plans, although the cynics will point out the use of his language "For the present day...." and that he reneged on his commitment not to change from blue to red last year.

The BBC interview seems to suggest that he is committed to Cardiff City - though more as a business venture to leverage the Asian market, than from a desire and love of football. His intent to mange it carefully shown by his point about spending a few million (up to £5m on a Michu like player rather than £30m on a a Torres like player who would be a waste of money (I paraphrase here). He's clearly not upset by the risk of not having every fan on side either, so long as the majority are, and he seems to think they are, based on the lovely turnout of red on the night of scarfgate.

Throughout all this, as I've kept my counsel there are several things to consider.

Why now? City are on the verge (almost) of promotion to the Premier League. The last thing they need is a distraction from the stands (I was going to say terraces, but that's for another post). The timing of this interview and the inevitable rumour, speculation and anger that follows is ludicrous.

Why at all? The only reason Vincent Tan appears to have given for the rebrand is that red is a lucky colour in Malaysia. Oh, and red sells more shirts. And he wants to make money. Apparently.

Either this man is extremely savvy, or extremely arrogant, or more likely both.

Interestingly, his parting shot on the BBC interview was, and again I paraphrase. "Why would I want to put money into the club if not for good? Do I look stupid?".

Well actually, Mr Tan, with your red City shirt tucked into trousers belted above the wait, do you want me to answer that honestly?

So where does this leave us? Leave me? Leave the club?

Well the fan base is being ripped apart. There's some real vitriol out there which is sad, but I suppose predictable. There is a huge amount of speculation about things that we don't know the full facts about (and as an ordinary supporter probably never will). Every statement from anyone is dissected and conspiracy theories abound - I never went too near the message boards because of some of the crap posted on them, but you can almost guarantee any post about anythings ends up being a blue v red argument these days.

You know who I feel for. Good club people. People who have to front up to some of this stuff. People like Barrie McAuliffe, Cardiff City Media Manager who's remained diplomatic and professional despite a barrage of difficult questions, and frankly, crap from some people. People who obviously have personal opinions one way or the other but who are constrained in what they can say.

Me? I'm caught between the devil and the deep blue sea (if you'll forgive the pun). I'm too emotionally attached to the Bluebirds to throw it all away. And I'm certainly not one of those who would rather see us playing in blue in the Conference than in red in the Premiership. I don't want to see us in red. I certainly don't want to see the name changed to the Cardiff Dragons. But I don't want to give up either.

Sam Hammam could have been accused (and no doubt was) of many things. One thing you couldn't argue though, was the balls he had to engage face to face with fans and have a real discussion with them, even if some of his ideas were a bit off the wall and some of the fans he sat with were a bit self selecting.
It would be nice to think that Vincent Tan could sit down with some fans opposed to his changes. Fans who could offer a sensible and measured discussion, and for him at least have the guts to listen to how some fans really feel, before railroading his way through tradition and history. Or walking away.

Don't hold your breath.

City til I die!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sat Nav Confusion

In the "good old days", and I'm talking two or three years ago here, it was simple. If you wanted a sat nav solution on your phone, you decided which flavour (Tom Tom, Navigon, Copilot etc), paid (for most) downloaded and off you'd go, physically and metaphorically.
If you wanted to do something daft like go abroad you could usually pay for and download the specific map for your solution, such as North America.
I bought, and to this day have used ALK's Copilot. It was cheaper than most, and for me did just the job. I even bought the North America version when we went on a trip to Orlando a couple of years ago.
We're off to Orlando, with a trip to Miami thrown in for good measure again this year, so I looked for the CP North America version in the App Store (I have long since deleted it from my iPhone).
I couldn't find it, until someone pointed out it would be under "Purchased Apps", whereupon I duly downloaded it again. But as I was doing so it occurred to me that not having found it listed in the App Store, it might now be out of date.
Back to App Store for a quick search on "Copilot" brought me to a grinding halt. There are now a myriad of versions of Copilot.
There are the usual suspects such as CoPilot Live Premium (add country's or region of your choice), some with HD versions, one called Copilot GPS and versions called CoPilot Truck - for truckers presumably.
Anyway, I was confused about whether my re-downloadable, but a couple of years old version was still valid so fired off an email to Copilot. They responded and said it was out of date (no surprise there), and that I should get the CoPilot GPS version (free), so I did.
It's a universal app which means it downloads onto my iPad as well as my iPhone. Firing it up I was asked to register, then have to choose my maps. Well UK & Europe obviously. Then N America. Oh, hang on, that'll be £6.99.
Oh well, I need it.
Check out my iPad, and Copilot GPS is there. I downloaded UK/Europe. hen N America. Oh hang on. To purchase another region, I have to upgrade to full turn by turn instructions. That'll be £17 odd.
What's going on here?
I already have Copilot Live 8 on my iPhone, which I paid £25 a few years ago, plus, a re downloadable but apparently out of date N America version. (Which I think cost me about £7 on a discount promotion).
Now Copilot have told me I should use the free Copilot GPS, where I have to pay nearly £7 for the N America maps after downloading my one free map (UK/Europe), then on my "universal" app on another device it looks like I have to pay £17+ to "upgrade" to allow me to download the N America maps!
And then to top it all, unannounced, I get a tweet from @copilot_us saying I should download the Copilot Live Premium US & Canada app (not just the US version) which is contrary to what they advised in their support email!
Confused? Oh yes!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini


Further communication from Copilot via Twitter directed me to a comparison page. After further consideration, I think the Premium version is what I need. keep my existing UK & Europe version, and get the US & Canada Version too.