Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mobile Broadband

I've just (well a couple of days ago) bought a mobile broadband pay as you go (PAYG) dongle from O2. Not entirely sure why, as I'm not often out and about that much with my laptop, but I guess it will come in handy for when I am, especially given that the prevalence of wireless hotspots isn't too great in the areas I am most likely to use it).

Clearly there was absolutely no point in me getting a monthly payment one, and the PAYG seemed a decent deal. I'm sure you can argue the toss for other network carriers, but I've been pretty impressed with O2 in the 14 months or so since my switch to them from T-Mobile. Hopefully it should be arriving on Monday, so I'll try it out next week, as I'm due to go for an overnighter to Manchester during the week. Will report back on how it goes.

My moment of glory

As I arrived at the match today, I was collared as we were walking round the stadium by a chap who asked me if I'd be prepared to say a few words to camera about the recent goings on at Cardiff City. Never the shy one, I duly obliged, and now you can see me in all my glory on this WalesOnline video-clip. You need to wait for the Holiday on Ice advertisment to complete, and then it's straight into my clip.

It's not me at my most fluent (but I didn't swear!), but it certainly helped having put some thoughts down on this blog over the last couple of days, as it meant I wasn't speaking completely off the cuff. Could have done with a make up girl around too I think.....

Needless to say they've cut a fair bit out (but I expected that), and they spelt my name wrong - it's Hiscocks not Hiscox, a common and easy mistake to make - he didn't ask me to spell it. Sometimes I just wish my family name was "Smith" or "Brown"!

City 2-1 Doncaster: Another Jekyll & Hyde performance

My God Cardiff City know how to give their fans a roller-coaster ride. Not content with all the goings on off the pitch, when it comes to the football, City are either brilliant or crap.

The 6-0 demolition of Bristol City (away) in the week showed their good side. Today, against Doncaster, we showed that brilliance for about 20 minutes - the time it took for Chopra to score his 16th of the season and miss a few more he'd score with his eyes shut on another day. City had already carved Donny open a few times by then, and Chopra's goal was well deserved. To be honest we should have been out of sight by half time after Chopra squandered several further chances and a McCormack header hit the post, and you just knew we'd regret those missed chances.

Sure enough, Donny battled hard and ended the first half behind, but much showing greater control. The second half was all Doncaster. They played the ball to feet, showed width and movement where City were static and profligate with the ball. It was truly awful stuff from us, as bad as the first 10 minutes had been good, and it was only a matter of time before Doncaster punished us - and they did. Woeful defending, a fierce low shot across Marshall 1-1.

From then on it was one way traffic, and the only likely winner would be the visitors. Jones made changes bringing off Burke, and then Rae and the awful Kennedy for Blake, Taiwo and McNaughton, and the ship steadied a bit. McNaughton looked good, and forced a couple of corners, and crosses. Two minutes into the 3 minutes of added time City managed to force a corner, and from the ensuing melee in the box, Bothroyd scrambled home the winner.

To be fair, joyous though I was, it was harsh for Doncaster who had worked so hard after an abysmal start, and had looked the more likely winners from about 30 minutes in.

Who cares though? Three more points to City, and as a bonus, Notts Forest lost for the first time in ages


Friday, January 29, 2010

Chelski here we come...

Well, despite all the grim news around Cardiff City at the moment, on a brighter note Mini & I have got our tickets for the 5th round FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge. Should be a good day out, and we're looking forward to it.

For one reason or another we rarely get to an away game, though hardly ever miss a home game. Reading the CCFC messageboard tonight though it seems a few people have an issue with people who don't usually travel away getting preference for these Chelsea tickets. In fact there are always disgruntled people when we draw a "big" club containing they can't get tickets.

The bottom line as far as I'm concerned is I usually stump up for my season tickets 6 months or so ahead of each season, so any attempt to say I don't deserve to attend any particular match gets right up my nose. And just because I don't can't get to away games regularly, doesn't make me any less of a worthy fan. We attend all the home FA Cup and Carling Cup matches too, on top of our season ticket costs, and being one of only just over 6,000 who turned out to watch the replay against Bristol City last week, and then be there in a crowd of less than 11,000 who watched City beat Leicester 4 days later in the 4th round, does I think signify our commitment as fans.

Oops, this post started out quite positively, but's become more of a rant the further I've got. Sorry.

Up the City.

By the way, we 'll be there against Doncaster tomorrow as well.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why can't people tell the truth? Lies, damn lies and football club chairmen

Things are looking pretty grim on the financial side of things for many football clubs at the moment.

City are in the pooh, Crystal Palace have gone into administration, Portsmouth are in dire straits, and even Man Utd are over £700 million in debit (yes, you read that right - seven hundred million) if the news is to be believed.

As well as the commonality of the financial plight that all these clubs are facing, is the complete inability of those in positions of seniority within the clubs to tell the damn truth about the state of affairs and why things are as bad as they are.

All that failure does, is lead to speculation amongst the fans and hand rubbing headlines for the media.

Why won't any of these slick (or is that slimy) chairman cum Del boys just stand up and tell it how it is.

I said in a previous post here, if Peter Ridsdale has said, "Look fella's, we're in the poop, buy your season tickets early, we'll pay off the taxman, and there might be a bit left over for players", I'd have paid up, and respected him for his candour.

Having committed to pay out almost £450 (thank God City aren't charging Premier League prices) in December 09 for 20101/11 season tickets, promises of refunds if we're promoted (Ha!) and the money going to players, I find out it's going to the taxman. Pissed off? I surely am.

All this "seeking investment" nonsense is I'm sure hard graft. You don't just stick an ad in the local press saying "Got £40 million - wanna buy a footie club?", but at least don't lead us to believe a deal is done, or almost done, and start spending the money, until it is.

I was all for giving Peter Ridsdale some respect. I thought when he came in on Sam Hamman's bequest it was a very dodgy scenario for the club, but he does did, appear to be turning the club around. But his blatant untruths in the last few weeks have turned all that on it's head, and any respect I had for him is waning fast, and his credibility has hit rick bottom with most City fans.

He can still turn it round I think, but he needs to do it quickly. It's going to be interesting at CCS on Saturday when Doncaster visit. There are already threats - probably more than threats of a big protest.

It's not so much a chant of "where's the money gone", because we've been in doodoo for a while, but it's definitely a shout of "you can't hide your lyin' eyes...."

Heard the one about....

I don't usually do jokes on this site, but my pal Stabber (don't ask) sent me this via text today. It's one of his cleaner, and more PC one's - most wouldn't get past my vetting. It's of particualr mirthiness to Cardiff City fans.

Dave Jones (Cardiff City manager), Sir Alex Ferguson, Rafa Benitez and Arsene Wenger all go out for a pint.

Davie gets the first round in, and then Sir Alex coughs up, followed by Rafa and lastly Arsene. As they're draining their last pint, Dave Jones goes up and gets himself another pint, but doesn't buy one for the other lads.

"Oi", says Sir Alex, "where's our pints?"

Dave Jones looks at him, and says "Well it's the fifth round mate, and you're not in it!"

Boom Boom!

Ford update

No-one from Ford (see a couple of posts ago) rang me back. They've had 36 hours to do so. Rang them again today. "Ray's on the phone" I'll get him to phone you back".

He didn't. Getting a bit pissed off by this now.

Apple iPad

So this is what all the hype was about. Everyone else in the world is having their say, so here's mine.

It looks very much like an oversize iPod. Apple call it their third device - something that presumably fits between iPhone/iPod Touch and Macbook/Pro laptops. It certainly didn't blow me away in terms of looks and specs, and many have commented that it's incomplete because it'll be running OS3.2, not an OS4.0 - presumably that will come in time.....I don't think there's anything staggering here in terms of new ides, so it's a little bit of a let down on that front, given the "Wow" that the original iPhone generated.

I can't really get excited by this - yet. My mobile technological need are comfortably met by my iPhone and Macbook Pro. A tablet device would be too big for when I don't need a laptop, and too small for when I do.

The most obvious use, and one which Apple are clearly pushing is it's potential as an e-book reader. Priced where it is, it surely has the Kindle in it's sights. But I'm not an e-book fan, so no point in me getting one for that.

Murray over at Palm-Mac does have a good point though, in that sooner or later you'll be able to watch TV on it, and as a mobile TV device you can pick it up, wander into the conservatory to watch the footie. But you can do it on a laptop too....or if you have a TV in the conservatory anyway.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hard work

Some times things are harder than they should be.

Before Christmas I took my 3 yr old Mondeo to the local Ford dealer because the car is pulling slightly (sometimes more than slightly) to the left and the steering wheel wasn't centred. When I rang to arrange the appointment, I was grilled to the nth degree about whether I was holding the steering wheel centred which was causing the car to move left. No, it's because it's going left AND the steering wheel isn't centred.

To cut a long story short, took the car in, service couldn't find anything wrong (they don't test drive them these days) and sent it to the bodyshop, where they put it on an Optiflex machine that basically checks the whole alignment of the car. They found some things were out and fixed them (or so they told me when I picked the car up - they hadn't offered to tell me what they'd one).

As I drove away I got the feeling that although the steering wheel was more or less centred, the car was still pulling left. I've been so busy since then haven't had chance to do anything about it, and lately, I'm sure the steering wheel is out even more. If I do hold it exactly centred, I go right, and if I hold it so the car's driving straight it's about 10-20 degrees off horizontal, and the car definitely pulls left. If I let go of the steering wheel (I know, I know, not when there's other cars about), I sometimes go left severely enough to warrant the indicators going on.

Rang again today where I got the third degree again, got bounced to bodyshop very quickly, no-one available, promised a ring back that never materialised. Customer Service - not here matey. Very disappointed as they're usually spot on here.

And yes, before you ask, tracking has been checked - about 3 separate times.

I don't want to be questioned as if I'm some sort of moron. There's something wrong with the bloody car. All they have to do is drive it a hundred yards and they'd see. All I want is to book it in and have someone look at it and preferably fix it. Not much to ask is it?

City fill their boots: Bristol City 0-6 City: Are you watching Chelsea?

This was the third consecutive Tuesday these two sides had met, the previous two occasions being the FA Cup 3rd round and the subsequent replay. Both had proved tight games, 1-1 and City snatching a 1-0 win in the replay.

For the first 18 minutes tonight it looked like following a similar pattern, but Peter Whittingham's scrambled goal on 19 minutes started a rout of the home side, with the last goal, the sixth, coming as early as the 57th minute, before Bristol, shut up shop and concentrated on damage limitation.

Whittingham's opener was followed by McCormack on 23 minutes and Chopra on 24 before an own goal just before half time made it 0-4 at the break. Any other side would reckon "job done", but only a month ago, City squandered a four goal lead at Peterborough, and I bet Dave Jones was reminding the team of that in the dressing room over a orange.

There was to be no repeat. Within a minute City had made it five with Chopra's second of the night, and 12 minutes later McCormack bagged his second to complete the scoring.

This was a comprehensive victory, over a half decent side (though not tonight) and shows what City are capable of if they put their mind to it.

I only hope it doesn't bring a rash of offers for some of the highest scoring players in the division before the January transfer window clangs shut.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Wireless woes

My daughter's nagging finally got the better of me over the weekend, and I relented and agreed to move our second, older desktop from the "study" into her bedroom. This leaves the newer desktop for me/my son, though it's mostly him as I spend most of my time on the Macbook Pro now.

So between us we undid all the connections and took it into her bedroom and set it up again, only for me to realise it had been hooked directly to the router via a cable and I didn't have a wireless card/adapter around. Ah, should have seen her little face when she realised she'd have to wait a day until she could hook up to MSN Messenger and all her chums again....even though she'd see them all at school today! (she's 13 this year by the way).

So today I popped into PC World on my way home and bought a Belkin N150 Enhanced Wireless USB Network Adapter (model F6D4050). The box didn't mention Win 7 compatibility (in fact none of the various makes/models did), so assuming everything would work (why sell kit that wouldn't eh?) I stumped up the cash.

When I tried to install it however, it refused point blank to play citing an error message about a missing *.msi file path. I hunted the install CD, and Belkin's support site to no avail, and even downloaded the latest drivers (which I think are the same as those on the install CD. Google suggested very quickly that Win 7 was a bit of an issue unless you installed in XP compatibility mode - not available on my version of Win 7. Somewhat miffed I returned post haste to PCW (which is rather conveniently or dangerously depending on your point of view, only about 5 mins away in the car). Despite my protestations that I knew what I was talking about the chap frowned, muttered and said he's be back in a minute -actually it was nearer 10. He said he'd found a forum where someone had built their own Windows 7 driver (I kid you not) for this device. I suggested to him that that's not really what I should have to do. To be fair though, he went and got all the other flavours of USB wireless adapters and did a quick search and came back to tell me that two of them had Win 7 drivers available as downloads from the manufacturer support site, and the other one from a support forum.

In the end I took the Linksys Rangeplus WUSB100, one he said needed a download from the Linksys site, and which cost £4 more than the Belkin (and looked smarter too - D'oh).

Once I got home, I just installed the thing from CD - first time. No download necessary. Up and running in 2 minutes. Good on you Linksys.

I've had some problems with Belkin kit before, so I think I'll steer clear of it for good now.

One final moan. Why do you need a box the size of a small house to sell what in effect is a thumb size wireless adapter with 1 CD and a couple of bits of paper is beyond me.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

TUAW: iPhone 4.0 wants

The Unofficial Apple Weblog or TUAW as it's better known, has recently been publishing a series of open letters to Apple, outlining what users want to see in the next gen iPhone, both at hardware and software levels. This 3rd and final letter in the series concentrates on the iPhones built in apps, and how we users think they need to be improved.
There's nothing much in here to argue about, and plenty to wholeheartedly agree with, including for instance a unified in-box in Mail, or the clock app dynamically showing the time in the same way the calendar app shows the date.

It would be great to think Apple (or any other developer) take notice of these open letters from users, but I'm not sure they do. Anway, we'll just have to wait and see. First ideas might come this week when Apple are supposedly letting everyone know what's coming, with the most hyped thing being the Apply tablet/slate/pad - call it what you will.

Me, I'd settle for all the stuff in the letter in a 4th Gen iPhone, so I can upgrade asap - my contract's up in May and new iPhones have a habit of launching around July....

Blog analytics. Thanks for your custom!

I analyse (only very occasionally) my blog visits using Google analytics. For some bizarre reason, they recently stopped working. A quick flip through the Google Analytics FAQ suggested that a newer version of the analytics code should be being used. I can't rmember being advised of this, so how I was supposed to know is beyond me.

Anyway, they give you instructions to check whether you're running the old or new code, which is basically view the page source code (!). I did so and found that in fact for some reason I was running neither! I can't remember changing or deleting the code, but a while before Christma I changed the theme template, so whether this buggered everything up I'm not sure.

So having found that out I added the new code, and in one day my stats have rocketed +1,600% I'm not quite sure how that figure's arrived at, because in real terms it looks like about 20 people have visited. I've never had that many viewers, apart from my regulars (thanks - you know who you are), but hopefully things will start to pick up.

I never set out with this blog to inform the world, but more keep it as a record of stuff that happens, and see what occurs along the way.

Keep it going, and spread the word!

Thanks for reading

City to take on Chelsea in FA Cup

In the FA Cup, if you're not in the Premier League you want one of three things in a draw.
  1. An "easy" tie to progress to the next round (if there's such a thing as an easy tie these days), and preferably
  2. A home tie, or failing that,
  3. One of the "Big" clubs
Well today, we didn't get 1 or 2, but we did get 3, with a tasty away tie at Stamford Bridge in the fifth round. They don't get any bigger than this, and it's going to be a hell of a day out. Me & Mini will endeavour to get tickets, but it's not yet clear how they'll be allocated.

As an "Ambassador" Season Ticket holder, that is someone foolish enough to pay for season tickets about 6 months in adavance, I should be in with a shout, but City have sold over 14,000 season tickets this year. The other thing in our favour based on the way it's worked historically, is that we attended both the 3rd round replay and yesterday's 4th round win over Leicester. Whether that means anything in the long run, who knows, but here's hoping.

C'mon you Blooobirds!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Will City ever sort their financial problems?

Businessman Ben Steele, a property developer allegedly interested in taking over Cardiff City was supposedly at today's game. Whether it's all rumours or not is hard to say, and there also stories about whether he's really got the necessary money. City are clearly in need of some significant investment, and soon, with another hearing in court over unpaid taxes due in a week or so. Another thing for us City ans to sweat over, but we've been sweating for a long time now.

Wobbly, but Wembley still possible: City 4-2 Leicester

Cardiff City know how to make a supporter suffer.
In the first 15 minutes City played open expansive football and carved Leicester open on two or three occasions. On 17 minutes, a long balled wide was chased down by Chopra who belted a pinpoint cross over for Jay Bothroyd to head home from 6 yards.

City then did what they always do when they get a lead. The stopped playing football, and reverted to hoofing the ball upfield, making sloppy mistakes and inevitably Leicester started playing the better football, and scored a goal from a needless free kick when Morrison, unmarked headed home Just before the half, they made it 2-1 when sloppy defending and indecision from the keeper allowed N'Guessan to prod home.

Dave Jones needed to slap a few people at half time, and perhaps he did. City came out in the second half looking the more likely, though the Foxes were sharp on the break, It looked like 2-1 was going to be good enough for the opposition but Burke's introduction on 61 minutes sparked City, and 10 minutes later Whittingham unexpectedly curled a free kick straight in from wide out to level the scores with 20 mins left. It never looked like this was going to end in a draw, although as we entered 4 minutes of added time, the replay was beginning to loom. But for once, City scored rather than conceded in injury time. Not once, but twice through Burke (92m) and McCormack (94m) to send the Bluebirds faithful into delirium and tomorrow's fifth round draw.

So a win, but hardly convincing, and Leicester may rightly feel hard done by today. They are moaning about a penalty shout but from where I was sat, the player fell over or dived - it certainly wasn't a penalty.

But let's not worry too much? Or should we? There are some significant issues for an old git like me to worry about as a "fan manager".

Mark Kennedy (left back) seems incapable of playing any other ball than a chipped/floated ball forward - Play it on the ground man!

The midfield is generally non-existent. How Leicester (and every other team we've played) haven't scored more goals through the middle this season is beyond me.

Hudosn and Gerrard at centre back lose too many 50-50 balls in the air for my liking, and Marshall, though palpably the best 'keeper we've had for a few years is still too hesistant at times.

But, I can't be too unhappy tonight after City showed some guts in the second half. We're in the last 16 now. Surely it couldn't happen again - could it?

Up the Bluebirds!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Mini Stats and I have just got back from seeing Avatar. Girls are away for the night so we had a boys night out!

It's a superb film, I was very impressed on a number of fronts. I'd heard a bit about it, seen snatches of a trailer, but didn't really have a grip on the story before I saw it, which is nice.

It's a bit of everything really - good (Na'vi) v evil (humans - well most of them), technology v simplicity, greed (humans again) v sanctity of life, money (humans....) v get the picture (sic).

The CGI is (generally) hellishly impressive although the "tree of rope lights" was a bit naff (IMHO), and whilst most of the time the 3D (yes we all wear sunglasses all the way through) isn't at cartoon "in your face" level, it's subtle enough to make a big difference to the viewing experience.

It's a long film too at 162 minutes, but whilst it feels long, it doesn't feel overly lengthy.

Anyhow, we both thoroughly enjoyed it, and if you haven't seen it yet I recommend you do. Just make sure you don't drink too much, and have a wee before you go in.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

iNews for iPhone updated

My current favourite iPhone RSS reader iNews, has just been updated.

iNews 2.1.3 offers the ability to scale images to fit screen width in summary view and fixed a few bugs.

Nothing significant, but I guess it improves an already decent RSS newsreader for the iPhone.

Bloody spammers

Not had many comments on the blog of late - not sure anyone's actually rading the darned thing according to my analytics, but I have been getting some spam comments. Loads of posts with chinese type characters in. A right PITA. I've deleted them, but if they persist I might disable comments for a while - and see if I can complain to Google.Blogger and get the perpetrator banned/suspended but I don't hold out much hope there. For the moment I'm going to enable comment moderation so every comment comes to me for approval before it gets posted- Sorry.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We're on our way to Wembley! City 1-0 Bristol City

Ah, the magic of the FA Cup. After last week's snowy 1-1 draw, we met the Wurzels on our own patch for the replay in front of a paltry 6,000 crowd.

It was a strange atmosphere, on this, the 2nd of three consecutive Tuesday night matches against the same opposition, in one of those flukes of fixtures and FA Cup draws.

After Jay Bothroyd had gone on record in the local rag saying effectively we didn't care about the Cup, and that the League match against Bristol next Tuesday was far more important, manager Dave Jones showed some good managerial guile in making Bothroyd skipper for the night!

City had much the better chances, bet never really had that final cutting edge, and many thought we'd be heading for extra time and the excitement of a penalty shoot out, before Chopra, exquisitely set free slid the ball past the keeper, only to see it rebound off the post, straight onto a Bristol City defender and into the net. Frankly, at the moment we'll take them any way they come!

For once in a blue moon, City managed to hold onto the lead, even through 4 minutes of added time.

Next up, Leicester in the 4th round on Saturday. We're on our way to Wembley, our knees have gone all trembley, la, la, la,, la, la, la

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cloud computing - Google's ever increasing dominance

A lot of people who write on the sites and blogs I frequent use and swear by Googlemail, and Google in general - Google Calendar, Google Contacts , Google Apps and so forth.

It always seems such a clean and neat idea to have everything in one place under one "brand", and I frequently think I should migrate all my email and PIM type activity to the monster that is Google, but I haven't yet done so.

I do have a Googlemail address, although my primary email address is on a long standing Pipex account (which incidentally I've been threatening to leave for years). I've slowly been advising some of my contacts of my gmail address and changing contact details on the multitude of websites I've registered with over the years, and sooner or later, my gmail address will become my primary address.

However, I'm less inclined to migrate my contacts and calendar. I used to use Outlook on my home PC (an old XP version), which was adequate rather than great. OK it was horrible.
Since buying a Macbook Pro, I signed up to Mobile Me, and now all my contacts and calendars are managed via my MBP or iPhone, syncing seamlessly via Mobile Me. OK, it's costing me, but it's a price I'm currently prepared to pay. There's the bonus of 10G of iDisk space too.

Additionally I have an irrational thought that storing my 250+ contacts on Google's servers isn't very good for data protection, but conversely seem to ignore the fact I'm happy enough having them sitting on Apple's Mobile Me servers!

My calendar and contacts needs are pretty comfortably met by the iCal and Contacts apps on the MBP (I don't use the Windows PC for this at all now), and being an iPhone user everything "just works" pretty much flawlessly, which after some of the issues I had with my Palm devices with duplicate entries, disappearing entries etc (not often, but enough to be irritating), I'm just happy to see the iPhone and MBP work like they're joined at the hip (which I suppose they are).

So, email aside, I have no real need to move Contacts/Calendars to Google currently. But the worm is slowly turning. Email is going slowly that way. One of the two websites, the cricket one I run is now hosted on Google Sites (, and the other ( will be going that way this year, and of course this very blog is now part of the Google empire. For the moment though, Apple hold sway in calendar and contact management.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Steady: Scunthorpe 1-1 City

It's a long way to Scunthorpe on a dull, wet and cold day, and not much to look at when you get there (I went once) - so I'm glad I didn't go.

City and the inevitable travelling faithful did though, but were behind after 11 minutes.

Scunnie seemed to have the better of the opening period, and City came out with more intent after the break. Eventually, City were rewarded when a Peter Whittingham shot deflected past the keeper, but we don't care, we'll take anything.

After conceding a load of late goals recently, things must have been tense in the last few minutes, and Scunthorpe had shouts for a late penalty turned down.

So a battling point gained, rather than two lost, but City must start picking up the pace again if they're to be serious play off/promotion contenders come the end of the season.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Canon Pixma MP560 Update

As you'll know if you visit here regularly, I recently purchased this printer to replace my ageing HP Deskjet 940c, and my initial impressions were very positive.

Well I've had the device a week now, and I have to say it's been an absolute revelation to me. I'm struggling to find any fault whatsoever with it. If I had to be really picky, I'd say the draft or "Fast" mode text isn't quite as sharp as I'd like, but hey, it's draft, and for a lot of what I do, that's good enough - especially if it means using less ink. That's not to say fast mode isn't perfectly serviceable unless your printing something where you want high quality, deep, sharp blacks. It'll more than do for my cricket committee documents etc.

Having duplex printing is a revelation. So neat, and think of the paper I'm saving!

Photographic printing is near flawless on the sample Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy II. It's a long time since I had any proper "camera film" developed anywhere, but I have to say the results from the MP560 on Canon photo paper are flawless as far as I can see. I'm truly gobsmacked by the quality, and may well end up printing more photos than I ever did with the Deskjet. Having said that, I've got some HP photo paper to use up, so it'll be interetsing to see if it's as good on it's rivals consumables.

One of the main reasons I wanted to change my printer was my Macbook Pro with Snow Leopard didn't support the HP unit. No such problem with the MP560. Connection is fine, drivers settings are all there, and performance is great whether printing from the MBP or either of my Windows 7 desktops.

Wireless performance is great too. The unit is sitting on the desk adjacent to the two Windows 7 desktops, so hardly a burden for wireless printing, but I've printed from downstairs (we've a fairly big house) on the MBP with absolutely no problems. Could put the printer in the spare room I suppose if I wanted more desktop space.

The scanning is equally good. The provided scanner driver provides plenty of fucntionality and settings to do what you want, including saving to PDF and having a "My Box" function to manage all your scanned images should you so wish. No problems on that front so far.

There's no OCR software provides, but I've got a copy of Omnipage Pro 14 lying about somewhere, but I haven't bothered to install it it. PDF's are what I want to create in the main.

So, all in all, I'm a very happy bunny, and thoroughly chuffed with my new all in one. I was originally looking at the MP640, which is A Listed on PC Pro's web site (always a decent recommendation). As far as I can see, the only real benefit it offers over the MP560 is CD/DVD printing, but as it would have cost me about £60 more, and I can't remember the last time I wanted to print a CD/DVD label, I think I've saved myself the money and got everything I needed anyway.

Musical stuff

I've got a fairly eclectic taste in music. I like all sorts of stuff, but I especially like stuff with guitars, with good thumping riffs. Possibly because I play one (not very well). In fact I've got 3 guitars - one electric, a Yamaha Pacifica if you're interested, and two acoustic - neither well known makes - in fact I've had the oldest about 27 years, and it came from a mail order catalogue my dear old Mum had, but that's another story.

Back to the point of this post. There are some tracks that crop up now and again, and really hit you, like a blast from the past. I recently heard Boz Scaggs' Lido Shuffle on the radio, a song I liked way back when (1976 I think), and I vowed to dig it out on iTunes or Amazon. Typically, I forgot all about it, until tonight, but after a quick shufti on iTunes with it's new hear a clip function, decided to download the version from Boz's Greatest Hits Live album. I think this track is brilliant. Much newer than the original, but I think it's a better track all round, because of the throbbing baseline and reverb rhythm that wasn't on the "poppy" original. I never much liked any of his other stuff, this was almost a one off.

There are a few other tracks I've variously heard recently which have prompted me to go and purchase the whole album, and largely I haven't been disappointed. Specifically:
  • Muse: The Resistance. Despite their massive popularity, I can't say I'd heard much Muse stuff before their Christmas ToTP appearance, when "Uprising" made me sit up and pronounce it the best song I'd heard in years, go straight upstairs and download the album (most of which is pretty decent) and Uprising has already become one of my all time favourites.
  • Midnight Oil: Remember them. Doubty rockers from Oz, much of whose music supports the rights and trials of the indigenous population, and their Diesel and Dust track Beds are Burning has one of the best in your face base lines ever.
  • The Hooters: Another band from way back, and again one I'd never really heard much of. Driving home from work one night Chris Evans players "Satellite" and it was another of those, walk through the door and download the superb "One Way Home" album before doing anything else.
  • The Nolans: Only joking.......
As I said, my tastes are varied - I've got everything from Les Miserables to Sandy Denny, Kate Bush , Jimmy Nail, Clapton, Billy Joel, the Beatles, Seasick Steve, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Blondie, Squeeze and more besides on my iPhone. No Nolans though.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Vale of Glamorgan Council 2: Twitter

Having slagged off the VOGC in my previous post, I've got to hand it to them that their Twitter feed is great.

They're right on the ball in tweeting that the refuse won't be collected, nor will the recycling, because of the bad weather, and only some roads will be gritted, and the schools are closed.

Road repairs

I bet the Vale of Glamorgan Council are just loving this arctic weather (apart from their worries about grit supplies of course, oh, and that they can't collect refuse and recycling). Apart from anything else it gives them an excuse about the state of the roads, with all this freezing weather creating more and more potholes etc.

Actually, I wrote to them weeks before Christmas, in an act that my son saw as confirmation that I've turned into a proper grumpy old git of Victor Meldrew proportions (I knew that years ago).

There's a short stretch of road between Barry and Dinas Powys - the A4055 - which carries a large amount of traffic. The road isn't great, but it's not the worst surface I've ever travelled on. Anyway, back in the autumn, a few small holes had appeared, and the council in their wisdom decided to resurface the road. Now this wasn't proper warts and all resurface, it was a "top dressing". You know, chuck down a bit of tar, stick some gravelly stuff on it, stick up a few "Loose Chippings" signs, and every-thing's ticketyboo.

Except it wasn't. Within a couple of weeks, this dressed surface had started to fall apart, and as we moved towards Christmas it became quite shocking. As a law abiding tax payer of the area, I felt justified in writing to said council to complain. A couple of days later I got a phone call from someone who understood I wanted to complain about the pot-holes in the street where I live. "No" I said patiently, and gave them the story. They said "Oh, not my department we'll get someone to get back to you" or words to that effect. Needless to say, no one ever did.

Now, after the weather we've had over the last few weeks, the road's gone from shocking to appalling.

Quite how the council can justify spending whatever they did on it, for it to be 20 times worse within a couple of months is quite beyond me. Poor weather aside, the initial job was clearly way sub-standard, and it really pisses me off that they don't seem to have to answer for it.

If anyone from the VOGC is listening, or reading (not much chance I guess, they're all out gritting (ha ha)), perhaps they'd like to give me a rebate on my council tax.

FA Cup: Bristol City 1-1 City: Late goal conceded again

Cardiff City do it again. Having had the better of a snowy encounter at Bristol City, they took a lead through Michael Chopra's great strike from the wing after their 'keeper had mucked up a clearance, only for the Bluebirds to concede yet another late equaliser - this time 2 minutes into the 4 added by the ref.

Ok, so it was a better performance all round, and we're still in the competition, but it's so absolutely gutting to lose late goals. I've lost count of the times we've done that this season, but it's a lot.

When are we going to learn to close out a game? To "win ugly" as the pundits like to say these days.

Oh well, let's bring them back to CCS and stuff them here.

Up the City

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cardiff City takeover in the offing?

As with many news stories, I'm not sure how much to read into this story appearing on the BBC website, but the prospect of a multi-million pound takeover of Cardiff City by some "American billionaire investors" is at least encouraging

As is customary in matters like these, there's virtually no detail available to Joe Public yet. Representatives were supposedly at City's match against Blackpool yesterday - they'd have been impressed by the on field events and fans reaction to recent financial scare stories then, and have probably gone scurrying back across the pond advising to steer well clear!

But let's hope there's something in here. Unless things are far worse than we are led to believe, a £40m investment would clear our debts and leave room for money for Dave Jones to spend.

C'mon City!

Gadgets I don't want. What about you?

Despite my love of gadgets and computer things in general, there are some thing that leave me pretty cold.

I've never been able to get into the whole e-book thing. I've tried, both on my iPhone, and before that on my Palm Centro. Now I agree that the Centro with it's small screen is probably not the most intuitive device to read e-books on, but it is possible, and I have done it.

The iPhone is obviously more suited to this, and I do have eReader installed in the device, with several books on it, but I just don't use it. I'd much rather have a real book in my hand/bag, despite the fact that it's another thing to carry around and I could get hundreds of books on my iPhone (if I wanted).

Thus, devices such as the Kindle and Sony's e-reader leave me stone cold, and I really have no desire to own or use one. Maybe it'll change in time, but give me a proper book with real paper any day. For me a book is more than just the content, it's an whole tactile experience.

The other thing doing the rounds at the moment is wild speculation about Apple's "tablet" device. I've never used a tablet PC, though I've seen some used by others. It may be the way of the future, and who knows, if Apple get their act together, they of all people will probably do it well, but for me at the moment a notebook like my Macbook Pro and a smartphone provide me with the mobile computing I need. I really don't hanker after a tablet device - yet.

Having said that, I can remember a time when the first proper smartphones started appearing, and I wondered who on earth would want to try and cram a computing experience into a phone. And now here I am, a smartphone evangelist!

Are you a gadget person who has seen gadgets that don't interest you?

Customer service - not here sir

We've just come back from an afternoon out in Cardiff with friends. We went to the panto, an annual trip for us - this year it was the John Barrowman Show, sorry I mean Robin Hood starring John Barrowman. Actually, the show, and John Barrowman were both very good.

Afer the show, as is our custom we went for a meal in town. Town (as we call Cardiff) was pretty quiet, and the pub/restaurant we went into was apparently entirely empty when we walked in apart from one couple who were already eating.

We were seated, ordered drinks which came after about 5 min, and then ordered our food. Slowly, the place began to get slightly busier. However, after about 45m the waitress came up and said that they had a party in the upstairs function room who had come in at 2pm (we arrived at about 3:40pm) and who had ordered late, and they'd only just finished cooking their food and were starting ours, and apologised for the delay.

We were a bit miffed as they'd given no indication when we arrived that there would be a delay (or else we'd have gone elsewhere). Anyway, we stuck with it as she said our food was now being cooked.

About half an hour later, after three other tables who had arrived after us had received their food we tackled the waitress again who said it had been quicker to serve other smaller parties - there being 9 of us. Eh? since when does the size of the party dictate when you get your food?

We were just about to walk out, but they muttered something about discount and that our food was just being plated.

Shortly after the food arrived. Whilst is was very nice, it had taken almost an hour and a half to arrive, which clearly hadn't been communicated as a possibility when we'd arrived. Needless to say we were not impressed. A discount on our bill helped, but it was a bit of a sour end to what otherwise had been a nice afternoon.

Customer service, and good communication doesn't cost much.

City - The other side of the story

This link to the BBC website has a video of Dave Jones reaction to yesterday's match. Whilst the things he says mitigate certain areas that I was moaning about yesterday, I still believe he's wrong in his assertion that the crowd were booing the players. They're not. They're booing the administration who can't, or just more likely won't give an open and honest appraisal of the things that are going on behind the scenes, especially in relation to the club finances.

All that happens then, is, that those fans who pay good money to follow City are left with speculation and rumour from 1) the South Wales Echo (who's reporting I'd trust about as far as I could throw Dave Jones) and those fans who reckon they've got an inside track to "important" people in the know at City, and usually haven't.

Please just tell us what's going on.

By the way, and as a way of supporting what I've just said, the rumours I heard yesterday at the match that Jay Bothroyd had gone to Aston Villa appear wide of the mark. Dave Jones says he's unwell.

Up the City!

[iNews] Rumor: Will Apple add a camera flash to the iPhone?

From TUAW. As someone who may well upgrade from an iPhone 3G to the 4th gen iPhone (if there is one) in the summer, this is interesting and welcome.

Isn't competition wonderful? Apple Insider is citing a well-placed source saying Apple is grabbing significant quantities of LED flash devices for use in the iPhone -- possibly for the iPod touch as well, if Apple decides to add a camera to that product.

"People familiar with Apple's initiative claim the electronics maker is seeking allotments of LED camera flash components in the tens of millions for delivery during the 2010 calendar year, meaning future iPhones -- and possibly the iPod touch -- are the most likely recipients of those parts, due to their sales volume. Those same people say that Philips' Lumileds Lighting sector is believed to be the front-runner for Apple's business and may have already secured the design win. "

Other reports say Apple has placed an order with Omnivision Technologies for 5 megapixel camera sensors. The current 3.2 megapixel Apple currently offers is looking a bit stale in light of 5 MP chips on some of the newer Android phones. I wouldn't be surprised to see multi-tasking finally make it to the iPhone in an upcoming iteration as well.

While Apple has a top selling smartphone, the competition will certainly push Apple into adding more features to keep a dominant position. Google Voice and Google Navigation anyone?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

More disappintment: City 1-1 Blackpool

I sometimes wonder if those on the "inside" of football live on the same planet as the rest of the world generally, and fans in particular.

Take today, City after a bad loss on Boxing day to Plymouth, and THAT game against Peterboro took on Blackpool on a horrific day. Freezing temperatures and ice still saw over 19,000 fans, including a travelling support from Blackpool watch one of the few games on in the League programme today.

City were missing Jay Bothroyd from the team sheet, with no explanation (has he gone somewhere?), and Chopra on the bench for McCormack, and young Josh Magennis leading the line. They went ahead after just 9 minutes via Mark Hudons's header from a corner. Magennis was winning everything that came his way until he went off with a suspected broken leg (the ref gave a throw in for that tackle).

With the average height in City's midfield and forward line reduced to about 3ft 6in after Magennis's injury it was always going to be tough.

Blackpool equalised after 28 seconds of the second half, and piled on the pressure. City faltered, and looked most likely to concede again. When McCormack was substituted the fans sang "You don't know what you're doing" to Dave Jones, even though his replacement, Chopra was greeted enthusiastically. To be fair, I didn't think McCormack had played that well anyway, but others obviously thought differently.

The other song the fans sung (me included) when we were roundly under the cosh was "where's the money gone?" I like about 10,000 others have already signed up for the 2010/11 season ticket in what was widely seen as an attempt to give Dave Jones around £3m to spend in the January transfer window. However, City face a £2.7m tax bill to be paid by the end of this month, as well as carrying around another £20m in debts. I would be most displeased if money I've paid to the club 7 months before I needed to, to help the club fight promotion was used to pay the bloody tax man!

Anyway, back to the match, or rather the post match press conference, where Dave Jones allegedly said amongst other things, Supporters are entitled to boo and cheer but I've said before that I don't understand booing your own players."

Hasn't he twigged? We're not booing the players (much). We're booing him.

Up the City.

next up Bristol City on Tuesday in the re-arranged FA Cup match. My money's on a second postponement. If Bristol's pitch was frozen last weekend, it'll be frozen on Tuesday night.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Installing a printer - Apple vs Microsoft. Which is easier?

My new Canon Pixma MP560 wireless all in one printer arrived today. £90 for a current wireless 5 ink duplex printer, scanner, copier is an absolute steal in my book.

The Amazon box was HUGE, and had me worried that the given dimensions were a bit iffy. Thankfully, the actual printer box was significantly smaller, and doesn't take up much more of a footprint than my outgoing HP Deskjet940c.

The manuals (a proper manual plus a network setup manual) are massive. The main manual is about an inch thick!

I first set it up for my main Win 7 desktop. It was very odd setting up a wireless printer, with the only lead being a power lead, but setup was a breeze once I'd unpacked the very well packaged unit.

Software install was painless, and less than 20 mins after opening the delivery box, I was holding a vibrant colour document in my hands, printed over the air. Superb.

I then turned to my Macbook Pro. Several of the Amazon customer reviews had mentioned whilst this printer does work with OSX/Snow Leopard, setup could be fiddly. Maybe it's my relative lack of experience with a Mac, but I can only agree. Having already set up the printer to me wireless network, all (!) I had to do was install the software and off you go. Yeah.

It took me over an hour and a half, much Googling, two downloads and a tip off one of the Amazon customer reviews for this device to get it working, but get there I did.

To save anyone else having the same trouble, the key is the following, and I thank a certain M Wrycraft from London who thankfully posted the following on the Amazon site.

The Mac installation was not so fine. Everything looked ok until printer registration (via the network of course) and OSX failed to find it. I suspect a few people will find this as the CD software is not the latest version and does not support 10.6. However a search on the Canon support found the software (you need the CUPS driver for printing and the ica driver for scanning). Once quickly installed (note: just complete the rest of the setup first then install these 2 drivers after), I could then add the printer and scanning using the normal System Preferences method. After that printing and scanning were fine.
So, far from perfect but at least there is an answer.

So there you have it. It's working on W7 and Mac. I have to say that my first impressions (Mac installation aside) are fabulous. It's a good looking bit of kit. It can sit virtually flush against a wall, has a neat on-board user interface, can print both sides, has 5 separate ink cartridges so you don't waste (much) expensive ink. It's wireless, so doesn't have to sit on your desk or even in the same room - I happily printed from downstairs to the unit which is up in our "study". There's a bottom paper tray and photo paper feeds from the top rear. The output tray door automatically drops gently open when a print job starts to give it that slight "mystic" appeal. The scanner driver looks very capable and above all, it seems to give very good results.

I'm very happy with this purchase, and would recommend it even on one evening's use.

I've just printed my first photo on one of the supplied freebie Canon photoglossy papers, and I have to say, the output is absolutely stunning. Bear in mind my HP Deskjet was at least 6-7 years old, so not exactly cutting edge, but still printed photos OK (ish) - not that I printed many, but this is hard to distinguish from a real print. I'm really gobsmacked by how good this unit is.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Wow! Frozen Britain

This is impressive

How much?

News stories are saying that demand for gas will reach a new high today, with usage reaching 455.3 million cubic metres due tot the cold "snap".

All I know is, that's a lot. But I have absolutely no idea what that means in reality. How much is four hundred and fifty-five point three million cubic metres? Can anyone describe to me in anything like approaching normal language, how much that is? Is is a Wembley sized amount? Ten Wembleys? 50 Millennium Stadiums worth?

And that's one day's worth?

It would be that more practical description that might make me (and others) realise just what an impact man is having on our planet. I just can't comprehend it in the language that journos like to adopt, presumably (apart from the actual facts of the matter) in an attempt to make it sound big.

Yes it's big, but how big? That's what I want to know.

Stick it to the Saffers

Yet another cracking end to a test match against the South Africans, with England clinging on the "win the draw" as it was humerously stated on the BBC text commentary earlier.

I'm sure there are those out there who aren't in the least bit interested in cricket, but that's your loss. To have a 5 day match that goes down to the final ball, with the chance of either side winning is fantastic.

To see England tough it out when everyone thought they'd roll over was great, but to to see the exasperation of the South Africans for the second time in three matches fail to prise out Englands no 11, Graham "The President" Onions in the final overs was even better.

South Africa probably think they played the better cricket in both those matches, but the whole point of test cricket isn't just about biffing the ball to all parts (apart from in Twenty20 perhaps), but about a tactical, strategic game full of twists and turns, and yes, sometimes the need to fight a rearguard action against all the odds, and where a draw really does sometimes feel like a win.

Now, instead of the series being level at 1-1 with SA tails up, England go to Johannesburg next week for the final rubber of the series knowing they can't lose the series, and the Saffers knowing they've failed to win two matches out of the last three they should have done with ease.

Great game, great result.

Thanks to BBC Sport website for piccie

Check this blog out

I've been following a chap on Twitter who goes by the moniker of @Gag_Halfrunt, who runs a blog called Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged. If you're a Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy fan, you may be familiar with Gag Halfrunt and Wowbagger, otherwise I'd suggest checking out Wikipedia - it's too complicated to explain here!

Anyhow, Peter as he's also known runs this blog which seems to be to be a bit about life, the universe and everything, which probably explains his pseudonyms.

I've found it an entertaining read. Worth checking out


Slightly disappointed today not to receive my new printer.

According to Amazon's package tracker it left Amazon's warehouse in the early hours of 5th Jan, and by 11.27pm on 6th had arrived at the carriers Cardiff depot having gone via a depot in Droitwich. I was therefore hoping it would the final short hop from the Cardiff depot to my workplace today, but sadly it wasn't to be.

I guess I can blame the weather. It's pretty ropey still around South Wales. Fingers crossed it arrives tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

At last - a decent todo app for the iPhone?

My chum Murray over at Palm-Mac recently posted about a new todo app called "2Do" which caught my attention.

Ever since getting the iPhone more than a year ago, I'e really struggled to find a todo app that I liked and fitted my fairly modest requirements.

I'm not a student of the "getting things done" (or GTD) brigade, I don't particularly want enormous power in a todo app. I just want to be able to list todo's, perhaps categorise them, and importantly set an alert based on a time. This seems to be the really hard thing to find. Most of the todo apps I've tried can do all of the above bus generally the actual todo is given a date on which it should be done, sometimes a time but rarely an audible alert. I'm sure there must be apps out there that do that, and no doubt someone somewhere will point that out to me.

Anyway, as a result I've taken to putting all my todos that are important enough to require a reminder into my calendar as an event. In many ways this has sufficed, and I haven't really missed not having a todo app (actually I do have one - Appigo's ToDo which incidentally does have the ability to put a time, but not an alert. I've never really got on with it though for some reason). However, Murray's post asa I say caught my eye, and for the same reason the app caught his eye - it's a really nice interface. Now a nice interface does not a great app make in isolation, but it's hardly expensive at £3.49 so I'm giving it a shot.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Iphone tips

I've had my iPhone for just over a year now, and love it just as much now as I did when I originally opened the box.

I've found all sorts of tips when flicking around the Internet, but tonight came across a blog where a post of a year ago lists a number of tips that I'd either forgotten about, or, in a couple of cases didn't know about. D'oh. Some of the tips aren't tips as such as the blindingly obvious, but a couple are really useful, like changing the dock icons in the iPod mode, or using accented characters.

The post is on a blog called "Reality Distortion - A blog about macs and that" which I hadn't come across before.

The Magic of the Cup

Well City's postponed match against Bristol City will be replayed next Tuesday - assuming the thaw's set in by then. Assuming we can get past the wurzels a glamour tie against Leicester (joke - sorry Foxes fans) awaits.

Looking back at the weekend, much as I don't like Leeds (odd as I once supported them as a spotty youth), I was please to see them dump Man Utd out of the cup. In fact I'd have been pleased to see anyone dump MU out. Not because I hate MU, but because every year deserves at least one big upset, and this was certainly as good as us beating Leeds when they were top of the Premiership back in 2002.

I particularly enjoyed Sir Alex having to find excuses like moaning about the fact that the ref had "only" allowed five minutes of added time. I bet if the boot had been on the other foot he would have been moaning about that too.

Anyway, lets hope we can get past both Bristol and Leicester - not a forgone conclusion given our recent form - and pick up our own big tie. Have to be Hull then (another joke).

Up the City!

Printer update

A couple of posts ago I was on about getting a new printer, Canon's all in one Pixma MP560. Well, I've gone and done it, as Amazon have it available at a remarkable £90 and if you can live with a 3-4 day delivery period (I can), free delivery. That's £30 cheaper than Comet/PC World which is a bit of a steal.

Chuck in the fact I bought it on Amazon via where I've registered my Cricket Club "Dinas Powys Cricket Club" as my "cause", and I've also raised 2.5% of the purchase price for the cricket club!

Win, win!

A bit cold then

So it's been a bit nippy then. Coldest winter for 30 years or so apparently. Pretty at times - this picture is of my wife Anne and daughter Bethan on the Sugarloaf mountain near Abergavenny in South Wales on New Years Day.

However, if you're not out enjoying it, you're probably one of the rest of the millions in the country in gridlock because we've had an inch and a quarter of snow and the temperature's drooped below freezing.

It never ceases to amaze me how inept the British are at coping. Despite out stiff upper lips, and alleged never say die attitude, it only takes a snowfall, a heatwave, three weeks without rain and so on, for the country to go into meltdown. It's either too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry. It's never OK.

Admittedly, that's a very broadbrush view. It has been colder than normal, but bloody hell, it's winter isn't it? And some cope better than others. The Scots, or those in Scotland. My brother who lives near Perth is just fed up of it, but the fact he's got 3 ft of snow piled up on the side of the road isn't stopping him and his family going about their daily basis. Here in Cardiff, half an inch and the city shuts down.

Still, better brace for some more - today's weather forecast suggests we're in for further cold weather (a balmy -5 today) and a deal more snow on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.

It's just a shame I'm back at work. No doubt the kids school will shut, and they'll have all the fun sledging!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

2010 shiny gadgets

New year. Must be time to start thinking about new kit. First on the list is a new printer. My old HP Deskjet 940c has provided stirling service for many a year - I think it was bought in about 2002 - maybe even earlier, and it's still going OK ish. However, it's not compatible with my Macbook Pro. Although the Mac can recognise it, it hasn't got a native driver that will work with Snow Leopard, and therefore it only works with it's gutenprint drivers. This at least allows me to print but, doesn't give any access to the device properties. Consequently, the only options available via the Mac is "print". No draft, no fiddling with orientation, etc. That's not good enough for me.

Additionally, I have an old flatbed scanner that now no longer works with my Windows 7 installations. It worked under XP, but not with Vista, and W7 has finally done for it.

The obvious solution therefore is an all in one printer/scanner/copier, and preferably one with wireless capability. Digging around various reviews, including my favourite PC Pro A List the one that stands out is Canon's Pixma MP640. However, it's not cheap, and apparently, not always easy to source. The MP560 variant though (which doesn't have CD/DVD print capability, which doesn't bother me), is available for about £100, getting on for £40 cheaper than the 640. Reviews are equally impressive. I'm very tempted, so I'll have a look around for the best price.