Monday, June 30, 2008

Gadget withdrawal

I feel the need.

I haven't changed my phone for what, almost 5 months and I'm very happy with the Centro too. Nevertheless, I'm starting to get twitchy and have started perusing e-bay more and more. I think I need a gadget fix. Trouble is, I don't know what I want, it just needs to be small (relatively), electronic and shiny. Actually it doesn't even necessarily have to be shiny. Small, though, definitely small. Well, smallish. And electronic. Probably.

I'm tempted to keep hanging on until nearer my birthday and then try starting to drop hints about iPhones, but the trouble is I don't want to lumber myself with an O2 contract particularly - I'm quite happy with my T-Mobile contract and it's still got months to run.

I might even think about a retro purchase on e-bay just for the hell of it. Still don't know what though.

Tricky isn't it.....!

I want a laptop too. If only to keep the kids of my PC. All it gets is thrashed with Messenger, Stardoll or Runescape. Serious stuff like Blogging is relegated to my Centro or our other PC which the kids shun like the plague because it's only got a 15" screen! Tempted by an Asus EEE - the 7" version.

I probably should ignore all these inner temptations and just keep the money in the bank.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

To play or not to play. That is the question.

In the absence of anything more interesting to post just now, I might as well update you dear reader, on my knee rehabilitation.

Saw the physio a week ago who asked what sort of level of activity I was expecting to get back to. I mentioned I'd like to try and play cricket again, although I admitted to him my best days were behind me (actually at 48 my best days have been behind me for some years!).

He was happy with the strength in my leg at 12 weeks post op, but basically confirmed what I already knew. However "successful" the operation was to ease the load on my knee, the underlying problem is that the joint's basically shot and at some stage it's a fair bet that I'll need a total replacement.

He didn't say so directly, but gave a very strong indication, that in his view I should hang up my cricket boots. My head agrees with him, but my heart keeps telling me to give it one more shot. He told me to go away and think about it for a couple of weeks, and will then decide my continued rehab programme (or not) depending on my decision.

I'm certainly not intending to play again this season - although I am going on the end of season tour - not as a player, but you never know on tours - too much beer and I might get talked into it...

I really, really want to at least try to play at least one season more, but I do accept that if I decide to do that it won't be big, and it won't be clever. Evidence of that the other night - after hobbling around with the U13's coaching them for 90 mins I was glad to get my feet up. The leg's still a bit swollen too.

Bugger. Getting old and crumbly isn't fun.!

More signings for City

City are at it again. More signings, but as yet no real big names to appease the City faithful. Frankly I'm not sure we'll get any new big name signings, but if Dave Jones has been as astute as he usually is (goalkeepers aside - let's forget Forde, Turnbull etc), maybe that's no bad things.

New boys on the block are 21 year old Motherwell striker Ross McCormack (pictured) and 19 year old Darren Dennehy a promising defender from Everton.

More pleasing perhaps is that Kevin McNaughton, a stalwart in City's defence last year has apparently signed a new 3 year contract. City always look better when "Nauts" plays in my opinion, so I'm chuffed about that.

Still no news on the rumours surrounding Manchester City's Ched Evans, or Michael Chopra returning.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Official Palm Blog. Your smartphone is like an, err, chameleon

I was reading (well flicking through - there's not actually much to read) the official Palm blog tonight, and saw this post.

I'm sorry, but doesn't this just sum up why Palm are falling behind the rest of the smartphone world?

That and their assertions from their recent Q4 and Financial Year results that "We continue to invest in Palm's future and remain focused on building long-term value," said Ed Colligan, president and chief executive officer for Palm, Inc. "Centro is a tremendous hit, we are gaining market share, and we believe with this momentum, and the launch of new Windows Mobile products, we will turn the corner and return to revenue and margin growth."

I guess on the up side, at least he's admitted there's a corner to be turned!

Good news

Continuing my recent grumpy old man theme, is there any good news out and about? I can't find any. Reading the various news sites I frequent, I reckon the human race might as well pack up and call it a day.
  • War (take your pick)
  • Weather - typhoons, monsoons, gales, rain - everything except sun
  • Fuel - oil at a new all time high today (I reckon it's a conspiracy)
  • Murders/assaults/crime (mostly allegedly involving the youth of today - the future generations, although to be fair you don't see too much of it round our way, though I did clip James round the ear the other day for some minor misdemeanor - I think he nicked the last chip from our dinner)
  • Global warming (stick that under weather)
  • House prices falling
  • The credit crunch
  • Everything is bad for you (especially take aways - darn!)
  • Swansea City were promoted to the Championship
  • Taxes on taxes (charges for waste collection - hey what do I pay my Council tax for?)
  • Gas and electricity prices set to rise by 40% (see Fuel)
  • Shady politics (take your pick)
Talking of shady politics, I received one of those "humerous" (read dodgy) emails today, which I recreate below as I thought it was quite funny. Apologies to all those people who don't, and a disclaimer that I have nothing to do with the origination of this, other than repeating waht fell into my inbox.....

Title: The Question (remember that)

The Scenario
You are somewhere in England, there is chaos all around caused by a hurricane with severe flooding (see weather/global warming above)

It is a flood of Biblical proportions.

You are a photo journalist working for a major newspaper and caught up in the middle of this epic disaster and you're trying to shoot career making photos.

There are people and debris swirling all around you as nature unleashes it's destructive fury.

The Test:
Suddenly you see a man in the water, fighting for his life amongst the swirling maelstrom. You move closer. Somehow the man looks familiar and suddenly you realise it's Gordon Brown

You have two options:
1. You can save the life of the Prime Minister, or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning photo documenting the end of one of the most powerful men in the country.

The Question (remember....?)

Would you select high contrast colour film or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Peace, love and litter

Saw this picture on the BBC website today of the (presumably aftermath) of the summer solstice "celebrations" at Stonehenge, and it rather caught my eye - for all the wrong reasons.

Now don't get me wrong, and I know I'm a grumpy old git but....

I rather suspect that the vast majority of the 30,000 or so people that turned up at the stone circle to "celebrate" the solstice would also profess to be ecologically and environmentally minded - goes without saying doesn't it - hippies and druids etc (and I've got nothing against either group as it happens). But look at the bloody mess they've left, and it's all plastic by the look of it.

Seems to me, that the majority of those attending probably went along for the "creac" and who cares about the mess they leave behind. Someone else will clear it up, at someone else's cost and time. They should be ashamed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dying mouse

And it's nothing to do with the cat!

Our older PC is an HP Pavilion that's now about 3-4 years old. It came with a wireless keyboard and mouse both of which have had a right bashing over the years. Yesterday the mouse stopped working. I tried replacing the batteries, rebooting the PC, resetting the wireless hub etc, all to no avail.

What's really sad, is the mouse isn't dead. It's dying. The red light (laser/infra red - I don't know) underneath it, which is normally bright and flickering is dull and faded, almost to nothing. Something terminal has clearly happened, and although it's only a small circuit board and a bit of plastic, it's almost as if it's asking me to take a hammer to it to put it out of it's misery!

For those of you old enough/daft enough to have seen the original Battlestar Galactica film, it's a bit like when one of the baddie Cylon guys dies and his "eye" flickers and fades to nothing - except you were quite happy when a Cyclon died - I'm going to miss the little fella.

RIP little mouse......

Sunday, June 22, 2008


We get a lot of weather, and many of "us" smartphone/PDA users seem to want a weather app on our devices. To be honest I'm not sure why as 99.9% of these people have data plans and access to the web where there's a myriad of weather related sites forecasting just about anything you want.

However, despite this we like to see that little weather app icon on our devices. I've been using Weather by Deluxeware for some time on my Palm Centro. It's been in beta, which for non techies means either/or/and:
  • they've been developing it and some bits of functionality are missing
  • you can't necessarily trust it to work properly
  • don't blame us if it goes wrong
Graphically it's really nice to look at, simple to operate and gives current, 48, 7 day and 14 day status/forecasts. Deluxware's own description says:

Make your own weather station at Palm now! Current condition for the entire world (and for specific regions) updates every 15 minutes. Forecast information updates every 6 hours. Before making travel plans for a hotel or flight, it can be useful to check the weather for where you want to go. The auto update mode helps to keep the weather data timely. "Weather-guard" will improve Palm's standard KeyGuard and give the access to the current condition or 7-day forecast in an easy way.

Specifically, the feature list is:
  • Fun images (clouds, sun, rain, snow) and indications of the general status
  • Custom backgrounds with JPEG-support(non-progressive)
  • High and low day temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit
  • Wind direction and speed in mph, km/h
  • Dew point, Visibility, Humidity
  • Current local time for cities
  • The sun’s ultraviolet intensity level (UV index)
  • Integrated weather to the Keyguard
  • Keyguard's weather supports all Palm devices
  • Hi-res+ devices Portrait and Landscape modes
  • Current forecast automatic update
  • Date/Time format settings
  • Real feel temperature
  • 5-way navigator
  • Easy to use
  • 7 days forecast
  • Detailed view for each day of forecast
  • 48-hours forecast
  • 14 days forecast
  • Skins for "Weather-guard"
  • "Advanced scheduler" for auto-update
  • Proxy-server settings
  • Update all cities weather per session
  • Photobank of exclusive backgrounds at "Web folder"
  • Customized Hot-Keys feature
  • Background images do navigation by folders
  • Download backgrounds from "Web folder"
  • Category "Best" for mostly downloaded backgrounds from "Web folder"
It's now out of beta, which means a) it's stable enough for general release (though I never had any problems with any of the beat versions) and b) you now have to pay a registration fee to access weather data. Costs aren't stupendous. It's $4.95 USD for a 3 month sub. $14.95 for a year or $19.95 for an infinite sub. I have to say I like this little app, and can heartily re4commend it if you're a weather buff. It'll prettyy much run on any Palm device running Palm OS 5.x.

Sadly, unless I'm mistaken there doesn't appear to be a trial version now it's out of beta, but I could be wrong.

City rumours

Not a great deal of activity in the transfer market for City so far. Aaron Ramsey has gone to the Gooners for £5m beer vouchers, and David Forde one of a number of 'keepers who have passed through the Bluebirds ranks in the last couple of years has gone to Millwall.

What everyone wants to know though, is are City going to spend any of Ramsey's money on a decent striker? Well, they've had an offer rejected fro Ranger's Kris Boyd (pictured) who they've expressed interest in before, and word on the street is they're prepared to up their £2.5m offer, but don't expect it to be by much. Dave Jones has always said, and to be fair in practice, not gone out and shelled a load of money on a single player - not that we've had much to spend!

Boyd would be a good signing. He topped scored at Ibrox in the last season despite only starting 23 games, and would surely be a huge asset in boosting City's flagging forward line.

It also seems there's still an interest in trying to bring Michael Chopra back to City from Sunderland, a move that would be welcomed by many of the City faithful - me included!

City are apparently trying to get Robbie Fowler to stay on a pay as you play contract. Keeping him at the club would be a big coup, but only if it's not going to break the bank.

In other news, the new stadium is coming along in leaps and bounds, and now looks like it's going to be a football stadium. I drove past it today for the first time in a couple of weeks and it's coming on great guns - the pics on the linked site are a bit behind how it looks now.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Campaign to up Murray's Stats

Murray over at Palm-Mac is a little disappointed with his recent site stats, which he says are on a downward trend. He thinks it might be because he's not writing about Windows Mobile so much. I think he is, but it's not so much about WM hardware/software, and more about how in his words "WM fanboys" seem to slag off any other platform device, especially the iPhone. Personally, I find his blog witty, amusing and one that gives a completely independent and unbiased view of all things mobile (well perhaps with a little bias towards Apple platforms, but hey it is Palm-MAC).

Trot on over, enjoy his posts and at the same time boost his site stats!

Murray, can I have that fiver now?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cricket, lovely cricket

One of the reason I haven't been posting so much lately is time. It's been a busy few weeks with cricket. Here's this week's example.
  • Monday night, up to watch U11's followed by Club committee meeting
  • Tuesday night co-ordinating U13 match (with all the prep required - getting the ground ready, sorting the teams, warm ups, scoring/umpiring etc)
  • Wednesday night up at the club because son James was playing in a senior midweek match
  • Thursday coaching the U13 training
  • Friday - day off
  • Saturday, with James again as he's been picked to play in the senior 2nd XI for the first time.
  • Sunday - probably day off, though James was asked to play in the Sunday friendly, but even I think two senior games on a weekend is pushing it for a 13 year old.
  • In between I've been updating our web site which I run as and when required ( if you're interested)
My wife doesn't recognise me, and my daughter asked her mother who the strange man in the house was when I got back tonight....

Should that be telling me something? My knee's certainly telling me something. Mostly, your'e too old and decrepit to continue playing yourself!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What's your smartphone choice?

For gadget geeks and smartphone lovers, there's a veritable mass of devices to choose from at the moment - too many some would say, with the keenest of gadgeteers unable to hold onto a device more than a month or two before succumbing to the latest shiny new pretender than is supposed to be able to solve all those (often not) lackings of previous devices.

Current kings of the smartphone hype market are, depending entirely on your point of view/loyalty etc are, and in no particular order:

There's a thread on this over at Palm 247 today which gives the contributor's views, and Murray over at Palm-Mac has recently made a number of as always shrewd and succinct insights into the current state of the smartphone market - forgive me Murray but I won't link all the relevant posts here, but dear reader head on over to his Blog and enjoy - I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

So where does that leave us/me/you?

Well, I still have my Windows Mobile HTC Vox S710, which at about a year old now is terribly old hat in smartphone terms, although it does everything I need a smartphone to do. To be honest it doesn't get used much, except on occasions when I need robust battery life or wifi, mostly because I struggle to get on with the WM interface, and God knows I've tried. Maybe the HTC Diamond's flashy interface is a step in the right direction for us smartphone users that don't want to delve into the WM back end constantly tweaking settings or dealing with the same old arcane file structures.

So, my device of choice currently is the Palm Centro. Yes, the interface (Palm OS) is dated, but by golly it works and that's all I ask. Yes it still looks like one of the Treo family, but come on, the Treo line is a big seller for Palm - albeit a bigger seller over the other side of the pond than in the UK. I like the Centro. It does (almost) everything I ask of it, and most of that pretty well, and I'm sticking with it.

But.....I do have an irresistible urge when shiny gadgets are around. If, and it's a big if, the iPhone 2.0 was available on T-Mobile, my current network provider at the same tariff I'm on now, I'd snap their hands off. Currently I have no desire to move from T-Mob to O2 and pay more than I pay now (I don't need to) to get the level of service I need just so I can get an iPhone.

Not yet anyway.......

Diddlebug Update

Browsing Palm Addicts on my RSS feeds today came across a post about Diddlebug being updated. For those of you that don't know, Diddlebug is a free note application for the Palm platform, which is miles better than the original useful but basic notepad, sadly no longer provided with newer Palm devices (though you can beam it from an older device such as a Tungsten to a Treo or Centro).

The application allows quick free form notes using the stylus (or fingernail if you've got any), but has the added advantage of being able to set alarms against notes, something that was lacking in Notepad.

The update mentioned today, the first for a long time, doesn't add much, but what it does give is support for 5-way navigation in countdown time list and support for the vibrate on Treo 600/650/680/Centro devices. Given it's free, I really can't see any reason not to install it. It's brilliant for those quick notes when the keyboard is just too complicated.

Sun, sea and Mythos

Well, considering it's almost midsummer, as I look out of the window this evening, it's grey with cloud, blowing a gale and bucketing it down.

Thankfully in a few weeks we, along with some friends are off for a fortnight to warmer climes. Zakynthos, one of the Greek Ionian Isles to be precise. No doubt about the weather there. Checking this week on the BBC World Weather site it's already in the low thirties. By the time we get there it's going to be closer to the high thirties or about 4o degrees. Warm. So long as the bar pool is in the shade and the Mythos is cold, I'll be fine. Can't wait!

Catty stuff

Not content with drawing us closer to the poverty line (I jest, but only just) following last week's feline health shenanigans, it's been another fun couple of days with Gizmo, as we learn more about the joys of cat ownership.

Yesterday I got a call from my son on his return home after school to tell me he'd found a very dead bird in our bedroom. To be fair to him, he even got rid of it and hoovered the feathers up. At the time Gizmo was apparently sat on the bed looking very smug. Our first "present", and no doubt we'll get more in time to come.

As an interesting aside, when I asked my son what sort of bird it was, he said "sort of sparrow-like".

"Well was it a sparrow?" I enquired.

"I don't know" he said.

Think about it. If he doesn't know what a sparrow looks like, how can he say it looked "sparrow-like"? Teenagers.

Then, this morning I woke up to the sound of horrible retching, and moggie being very sick on our bedroom floor! He seemed fine straight after, and I couldn't detect any sparrow or feathers, so it might just have been a furrball.

These are the delights that they don't tell you about in the fluffy kitten "Looking after you new cat" book that my daughter has......

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fuelling the problem

How's this affecting you? Or isn't it?

According to the BBC website, many petrol stations in and around Cardiff are out of fuel, though I can't comment personally, as I haven't been near a petrol station for a few days. Hopefully I won't have to go near one until this mess is sorted either, as I've still got about 400 miles worth left in the tank - that's about 7-8 days worth of at my usual daily mileage rates give or take.

What I find odd is that whenever there's the slightest hint of a problem, be it fuel, food, or any other commodity, the Government advises people not to panic buy, and what's the result? People panic buy of course.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Euro '08 Holland 4 - 1 France

Firstly apols to the BBC for nicking second photo today.

Just watched this match, and what a belter it was. Seeing this reminds me why none of the home countries made it to the finals. Holland were awsome. Quick, aggressive, talented, and jsut blew the French out of the water, as they'd done to Italy in the previous match. Can they keep it up though?

Bluebirds stuff

So, after all the speculation the inevitable has happened. Aaron Ramsey, Cardiff's teenage wunderkid has left for Premiership pastures, and the wide open spaces of Arsenal's Emirates stadium.

The only debate really was whether he'd go to Man Utd or Arsenal. I suspect 99% of City supporters, like me, were hoping that he'd choose Utd, as they were the only interested party who had a loan back clause, and whilst we didn't want to see him go, to have him back for a year on loan, PLUS £5m in the kitty would have been rather nice. But it wasn't to be. Arsene Wenger must have promised him something that Sir Alex couldn't. First team football perhaps?

So, we've got £5m to spend. Err, no. We're still in financial distress, though no where near as bad as it could have been, and tonight's South Wales Echo suggest we're not about to splash any significant sum on a single player. Hopes are high that we might tempt Michael "Chops" Chopra back from Sunderland, and I wouldn't be averse to that, or Ched Evans from Man City, but he's apparently just signed a 3 year contract, so I can't see that happening.

On the playing front, the first round of the mighty Carling Cup has been drawn, and we've got a tasty away tie (not) to AFC Bournemouth. Might give that one a miss.

On the City novelty front, my wife has bought a brick for me. Not any old brick, but an inscribed one that's going to be part of the new "City Walk" at the new stadium when it's completed, that says "Simon & James Hiscocks - Bluebirds Forever". I'm genuinely chuffed to bits. Be there long after I'm gone I hope. I wonder whether it'll be difficult to find amongst the thousands of other bricks that will be laid, or whether she's the only one who's bought one, and people will be saying, "Who the hell is he?"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Limited posting

Still haven't been posting much, but it's been manic. What with the cat (see below) and cricket. Not me playing of course with my dodgy post surgical knee, but my son "Mini-Stats". Three consecutive nights...
Played for the U13 on Tuesday, the Senior midweek side last night and tonight it's been U13 training. With the cat problems on Monday through this week, I'm glad it's Friday tomorrow!

More cat news

Gizmo's been back to the vet for x-rays as his leg wasn't improving. They had to anaesthetise him. My good lady went to pick him up tonight. They've pumped him up with painkillers and antibiotics. Apparently nothing broken, so just patience required. And deep purse. Nearly £300 this time. Cats. Nearly as bad as kids! Just glad we insured him!

Monday, June 09, 2008

How to spend money quickly. Get a cat and drive a diesel

Our cat Gizmo has managed to injure one of his legs. Looks like he's been in some sort of "altercation" with another neigbourhood feline. Quick trip to the vet's, a painkiller an antibiotic, and that'll be £60 (near enough) thank you sir (or madam really as the missus paid). On the way home stopped at Morrisons to fill up with diesel. Bang goes another £58 beer vouchers.
Not that I'm counting.
So after much hype the iPhone 2 is finally revealed.

I suppose it looks to me very similar to the original iPhone, though to be honest I never really got too near one in the flesh.

It does look snazzy, very thin and of course with that all important 3G. All important that is if you want a fairly quick internet connection, which I suppose if you really want an iPhone you do.

It seems that Apple are pushing that this will be "more affordable" too - $199 for the base version is what I've seen, though despite the exchange rate I'll bet that translates to £199 this side of the pond.

For more detail on the features, check out the Apple web site.

When's my birthday?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Strange Week

It's been a strange week. I went back to work for the first time following my surgery, and to be honest there's been so much going on at work I've felt a bit like a fish out of water - especially the first part of the week.

I've waded through all my emails, and been debriefed by the person who was standing in for me, so I've got a handle on what's going on - all I need to do now is get up to speed with the detail.

Leg wise, I'm holding up pretty well. Still some aching and discomfort, especially towards the end of the day, but generally it's much better (than it was a few weeks ago - not necessarily much better than it was before the op!)

Posts here have been minimal. Partly because I haven't felt I've had anything particular I wanted to post, but partly because I've been so busy doing other stuff this week - both at work and at home.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Customer Service 2

Phone rang this evening. Pipex (my broadband supplier) on the line, offering me the same service as I currently have for £5 a month less. No brainer.

Signed up on the spot.

they said they'd send me an email to confirm.

Just logged on.

I have 21 (twenty one) various emails in my inbox from Pipex relating to the "change of service". It's nice to be loved, but one would have been enough.

Customer Service 1

I recently posted about a customer service experience. Well, here goes again.

On 9th May I ordered some sports equipment online from this particular company. Having heard nothing (other than the transaction on my credit card statement) by 23rd May I rang them up.

After much to-ing and fro-ing, the person on the end of the line admitted they didn't have the item in stock but they could send me an alternate that day. I agreed and waited hopefully.

Today the package arrived. Right item, wrong size.

Rang them up. The person seemed flustered and started talking about return pickups, whereupon I told them frankly it would be easier for me to cancel the order, have a refund and nip to my local JJB Sports. They asked me if I wanted to cancel, I said "yes" and then they hung up on me.

Rang back, spoke to someone else who after some fussing around told me rather haughtily yes, they were cancelling the order at that minute.

Would have been nice of them to say, "OK sir, we'll cancel that for you now" before they hung up on me though.