Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Paperless - closer than you think

I don't suppose we'll ever be completely paperless. At least not in the near future. But the opportunities to reduce our dependency on pulverised wood are there. Wherever possible I do all my transactions online, and hardly see a paper bill these days. E-books mean that bulky books are fewer, although I have to say I like to read a real book rather than an e-book. If I see anything online I want to make a note of, I capture the screen or web page, or just a part of it to Evernote, one of my favourite apps with a couple of clicks and it's there and available for posterity, across all my devices - my desktop iMac, my Macbook, my iPad and my iPhone, or indeed online from any internet connected computer.

It's the little scraps of paper that are annoying, or those old photos. However, there is a solution. I've been using a Doxie One  from Doxie for a year or so and I love it. It's a small portable scanner, mains or battery powered that enables you to scan in sheets up to A4 size to an SD card and then import them to, well, wherever you want to using the desktop Doxie application. It's brilliant, and I've cleaned out all but the most important of documents (birth certificates etc) from my "filing". I've never had less paper. Anything that does come on paper now that I need to keep gets "Doxied" and then shredded.

Not only is the hardware great, their customer service is exceptional. A few months after getting my Doxie One, I emailed them to mention that although the scanner was working fine, occasionally the scanner wasn't always being recognised when I connected it to the Mac via the usb cable (not a major problem as I nearly always use the SD card to transfer the files, but slightly irritating nonetheless). They emailed me back with a few suggestions that didn't work. Then they said don't worry we'll just send you a new one - and they did. No questions, no hassle, just "here, have a new one". They said keep the old one (even though it was still working fine apart from that one occasional gripe).

I'm so impressed that I've just upgrade to their latest version - the Doxie Go wireless. Like it's little brother but wireless so I can now transfer files from it's inbuilt memory without any cables or SD card swapping. The photo below shows how diminutive this is - a CD is provided only for scale comparison, not to say anything about my taste in music. If you like gadgets and have a bunch of paper and old photos lying around you want to scan, I'd recommend this little marvel, or indeed any of it's siblings.

Doxie Go Wireless

The wonders of space

I've always been interested in space. The sheer unimaginable scale of space. The possibility of extra-terrestrial life. Spaceships. Men on the moon. Many an hour I've spent watching the stars, with little comprehension beyond the known solar system. I could name a few of the more obvious constellations, find the North star, and have been able to point out Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and even Mercury on one occasion. I'm particularly fond of the International  Space Station. I watch it fly across our skies regularly at 17,500 mph some 250 miles above earth, and follow several astronauts on Twitter both whilst they're up there tweeting from the ISS and afterwards once they're back on terra firma.

And so it was with some delight and significant surprise that for my birthday this year, my good lady bought me a telescope. Not any old scope mind you, but a Skywatcher 200 Dobsonian. That's it there in the photo!
It's almost as big as it looks! It's got an 8" mirror in the bottom and is a wonderful bit of kit. Easy enough to set up and pretty much point and look in use. I've been somewhat hindered by cloudy skies since I've had it. However, I've seen the moon where the detail is awesome, and a few stars (which just look like slight bigger versions of the ones I can see with my eyes!). I've even managed to find the Andromeda galaxy, although even with this beast it's little more than a slightly brighter blotch in the sky. Apparently it is visible with the naked eye in some darker skies, although with my eyes there's no chance. There's an interesting article about the Andromeda galaxy, and how big, relatively, it actually is here.

Last night was probably the clearest the sky has been since I had the scope and I spent some time trawling the skies. I found the Orion nebula (another milky blotch, although a distinct blotch! The other things about looking through a scope is being blown away by the sheer number of stars up there - you can point it at what appears to be a black and empt patch of sky, but when looking through the eyepiece all you can see is countless stars. It really is amazing.

My most wondrous moment however was finally seeing the massive planet of Jupiter and all four of it's moons. I've seen Jupiter before - it's easily visible as a huge bright planet with the naked eye, and I've also seen some of it's moons through binoculars, as tiny pinpricks of light. Through the scope though not only could I see all four moons aligned in a straight line, but Jupiter itself as a distinct and clearly visible planet, with the stripes from it's cloud formations very visible. It was a real "wow" moment for me - forget the picture you see - when you see it like that with your own eyes it's a tremendous feeling.

I even managed to take a photo. It's a crap photo, as it was taken handheld with an iPhone 6 held about 1cm away from the scope's eyepiece, and so full of movement which blurs the picture. It was taken with my widest angle eyepiece on the 'scope which can't make out the detail I described above (I used a greater magnification eyepiece to get that detail) but you can tell it's there, and you can clearly see the four moons. It's a ropey picture, but it's mine, my first ever picture of Jupiter, and I love it!

If you're even remotely interested in what's up in the heavens, I'd recommend an app such as Sky Guide (this is the iTunes link) which is brilliant and helps you start to understand what's where and find all sorts of stuff. It's £1.49 but frankly that's less than the price of half a pint of beer (and no, I have no link to the app of the developer).

If you're a Twitter user, following astronauts is easy. Currently NASA astronaut Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) is aboard and tweeting from the International Space Station (ISS).

A prolific tweeter of all things space and astronomy, including the times of ISS passes is @VirtualAstro

Monday, December 29, 2014

On your doorstep - don't miss it

It's been a fantastically gorgeous day in Cardiff - wall to wall blue skies and sunshine. It's difficult to believe it's 29th December.

Making the most of the unseasonal weather we've been on a circular walk of Cardiff Bay. It's a great walk - about 5 miles give or take that we've now done a few times, but the key for me given my very dodgy knee, and other aching bones is that it's flat, and all or pretty much all on paved surfaces. A decent pair of trainers will see you all right unless it's chucking down.

We started at the free car park on Marconi Avenue just down from the Oystercatcher pub, and went anticlockwise, taking in the barrage first, passing Penarth Marina with it's collection of boats of all shapes and sizes. In fact the number of craft in the Marina, the river Ely and the bay itself is tremendous, and needs to be seen to be belived. The best place to view is on the Pont y Werin bridge looking down the Ely towards the bay towards the end of the walk.

We stopped in Mermaid Quay for a Starbucks coffee before the second half taking in the wetlands nature reserve  before crossing the road bridge and then Pont y Werin footbridge over the river Ely completing the walk and finishing off with a very good value meal in the Oystercatcher, which is one of the Hungry Horse chain of pub/restaurants.

As is so often the case, it's a reminder of what's on your doorstep and either taken for granted or, in many cases completely overlooked. As well as the barrage, impressive in itself with it's three sea locks and now, huge freshwater lake fed by the Taff and Ely, there are many important and historic buildings along the way. The Senedd, Norwegian Church with it's Roald Dahl connections, the Millenium Centre, Pierhead building and Millenium Stadium are all visible in the photo taken from the Penarth side of the barrage. Mermaid Quay is a bustling centre these days with coffee shops, ice cream parlours and eateries to suit every taste and pocket. The newer builds of the St David's hotel and spa, flats and unseen here, white water rafting centre, ice rink and swimming pool show how vibrant this area is these days.

On our way round we were ruminating about the "old days" of the mud flats, the Red House pub and the scrappies along Ferry Road. Rose tinted spectacles perhaps. The number of people out and about with kids or just adults around on their own today, whether taking in the weather or a visit to the Dr Who Experience or the wetlands nature reserve behind the St Davids hotel would never have been possible without the foresight to redevelop what was a pretty run down area of the City not too long ago.

It was a lovely walk in lovely weather, but whatever you do, just take the time to pop down and regardless of whether you do the whole circuit, or just a short stroll on part of it, don't miss it.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bad to worse...

I started by last post by saying "Just when you think things can't get much worse at Cardiff City...", but oh, how they can.

Today's dismal 2-4 defeat to Watford took both Cardiff City, and my support for them to a new low. Manager Russell Slade had called for a reaction after their capitulation of a 1-0 lead against 10 man Charlton on Boxing day, but even when they went 1-0 up today through an Adam LeFondre header, you just knew it wasn't going to be a great afternoon.

Empty seats throughout the stadium showed that a lot of people had stayed away (more on that later). City started brightly enough, and got that early lead, but Watford always looked neat and precise and a goal was always coming. It came on 42 minutes after some typically comic book defending by City, and then just 3 minutes later Watford took the lead after more defenders went awol. The boos were inevitable. The fight that City showed in the second half against Brentford never materialised, and Watford added to their lead on 63 minutes with another belter from way outside the box (this is happening every game now). By the time the Hornets bagged their 4th, the crowd were "ole-ing" Watford's passes, had chanted "You don't know what you're doing" to Slade when he subbed Adeyemi (arguably one of the better of a bad bunch today), and topped it off with "You're getting sacked in the morning" as the visitor's 4th went in.

I didn't see Jones get a second for City, because I'd walked out by then. I think I've only ever walked out of a City match in disgust once before, but at the moment they are an utter, utter, utter, shambles.

Slade appears to be way out of his depth. In mitigation it's not his squad, he's got too many overpaid and under-achieving players, but he was brought in (by Vincent Tan lest we forget), because he was such a good man manager. Well, let's just leave that thought there shall we?

The crowd also broke into laughter at Ali's announcement that there were 22,208 in attendance because there were clearly no where near that many there, and that's before most people walked out. There's a difference between tickets sold and bums on seats, and I reckon there were 18,000 there at most. If the club wants to delude people that it's being well supported, they need to get a reality check. The club is going down the pan fast. It saddens me, because the club is never going to admit things are bad - it's their jobs after all. But someone needs to sit Vincent Tan down, and be brave enough to tell him that frankly, he needs to go, or he needs to change things. Listen to people who know football. He doesn't, and I doubt he ever will.

I really do despair. There's a sickness, a poison around the club. The disillusionment is immense. On and off the pitch the club is an embarrassment, and no one except the supporters are prepared to say it.

Friday, December 26, 2014


Just when you think things can't get much worse at Cardiff City, our glorious owner issues a special Christmas Day message to fans saying we will not return to blue and any protest will be futile. Thanks, and a Merry Christmas to you too Vincent.

And then, to cap off a truly wonderful Yuletide for the Bluebirds, we chuck away a 1-0 lead away at Charlton against 10 men. Not only did we squander the win but apparently only managed 38% possession against the 10 men of Charlton. Seriously, what sort of management, leadership and focus is being shown by this club?

Whilst I've always opposed the rebrand I've stuck to the club but I have to say my resolve is waning by the week. For the first time I am now really beginning to wonder about the thought of not renewing my season ticket for next season.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas crumble

Regular readers will have noticed that...well, there's been nothing to read. I haven't posted since March when Cardiff were beaten (trounced) by Liverpool back in the halcyon days of our Premiership season.

I keep meaning to write something but never quite find the motivation. Normally, because I've been exhausted by another inept display, either by the club as a whole, or the players on the pitch. My regular tweeting on Cardiff City and other stuff (@Statto1927) at 140 characters, is normally enough.

But I can't restrain myself any more. Today I watched my side capitulate as we went 3 down at home in 33 minutes to a side who were two divisions below us last season. They were great, we were woeful. In fact we weren't as good as woeful. The final score was 2-3, which rather hides the fact that it probably could have been about 0-7. Frankly Cardiff City on the pitch are awful at the moment (read the last two seasons), and anyone who thinks otherwise (and the club and some supporters seem deluded enough to think we should be much better) is on a different planet. At best we are ordinary. In the last week we've been beaten soundly, and deservedly by two sides who were in League 1 last year who have played neat, incisive football with a team ethic that's sadly lacking in the borough of Leckwith.

Where to lay the blame?

Well a lot of people blame the players. That's understandable. They get paid a lot of money to kick a bag of wind around a field, and whatever the manager says, or the tactics he asks them to play, it's them out there against 11 other blokes. But some of the play recently makes parks sides look good. Passes going astray when no pressure, attacking players whose shooting power wouldn't dent a paper bag, and an alarming degree of being static and not challenging for the ball when opposition players are running and challenging everything. And let's face it, we've got some donkeys in our squad.

One who isn't a donkey though, shows that players talk and play a different game. Peter Whittingham after the loss at Bournemouth said.

"We have to be better. We must start quicker".

Yes and yes. So why didn't you?

So it's the player fault.

Or the manager. Since getting rid of Malky Mackay we've never looked like a team. I'm not defending Mr Mackay - clearly something went awry there, although I don't think us ordinary folk will ever know the truth, but I don't believe it's as one sided as Vincent Tan seems to delight in telling others. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was woefully inept as his replacement, and some of his signings beggar belief in hindsight. The current incumbent, Russell Slade was dragged from Leyton Orient (and let's not forget he's Vincent Tan's man this time), on the back of being a good man-manager, but with no experience at this level. A brief honeymoon period when a few results went our way, even though we weren't playing very well, and some nice media interviews, doesn't disguise the fact that he may be out of his depth too.  He blames a big squad, but hey, you've got them all to pick from. Surely there must be 11 who can play as a team in there somewhere?

Managers don't help themselves though do they? Here's one of Slade's quotes after todays performance.

"There were two ways to go at half time after we were knocked down and on one knee. We needed a response, we had to get up fighting. The players did that and they are the type of people you want in your changing room, the type of people I want around me".

No, no, no Russell. I want players around me who don't play so ineptly that they end up 3 down after 33 minutes in the first place.

So it's the manager's fault.

Or the fans. Clearly the fans aren't supporting their team and that's the problem. (That's a joke by the way). Idiots like me turn up to every match paying good money, cheer on the team and get rewarded with the dross we've seen lately. Don't blame the fans. Even the ones who boo, walk out, or have even given up coming.

Or the owner. Now we may be getting to the nub of it. The rumblings against Malaysian owner Vincent Tan have been loud and long, but not universal. The change of colour from blue to red caused an outrage, seemed to die down, and is back with a vengeance. The change of badge/crest to the awful beer mat effort is just laughable. And to what end. Lucky red certainly isn't lucky. But Mr Tan is too arrogant, or more likely stubborn to see that his re-branding and handling of the club is what I think is pushing the club to crumbling point. Fans divided. Fans fighting amongst themselves, and all because of what Tan has done. An we were supposed to be debt free by now. Instead we are still in HUGE debt. And pretty much of it all owed to the owner.

Just going back to the fans for a moment, let's remember everyone is different. Those who walked away at the first sign of a rebrand were perfectly entitled to. I thought they were wrong. I thought the rebrand was wrong too and still do - vehemently. But they had a point of principle. I'm now getting as disillusioned as they are. But I don't think I'll walk away. After all, supporting a club is about supporting through thick and thin, and whilst I think the club is in a mess, it's still the club I support. It doesn't not become so because we've got an owner and a lick of red paint. If you have a different view that's fine. It's not mine. Vincent will be gone at some point, and a new owner has a gigantic gimme of a win over for the fans waiting for him (or her) on a plate. Back to blue.

It could be worse. We could be Hereford United.

If the club had half a brain, they wouldn't be in this position. You've got to wonder.

Merry Christmas people.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Referees, the laws of the game and fans

I left CCS today after seeing City beaten 3-6 by Liverpool with some sense of frustration, despite seeing City play perhaps some of the best football they've played for a long time.

Yes, on paper we had been walloped by one of the title contenders, but it wasn't as straightforward as that.

Having played like relegation contenders for what seems like months, the Bluebirds really took it to Liverpool in the first period, bouyed by a vocal home support, no doubt swayed by the pre-match protest march for a return to blue. Indeed, to see much of the stadium bedecked in blue scarves was a sight for sore eyes, and the fans were loud and proud.

City went ahead twice against the in form Reds. First Mutch slotted home leaving Mignolet rooted to the spot, but after only 6 minutes Suarez, inevitably, equalised. Incredibly, City went ahead again, this time, a collector's item as one of the Bluebirds strikers actually scored - Campbell. A defensive lapse (and we've seen a few of those this season) then let in Skrtel to draw the sides level at 2-2.

You sensed City would struggle to keep up the momentum in the second period, and that Liverpool would tighten up, and so it was. Liverpool's third though was wrought with controversy. In conceding a corner, two Cardiff players appeared to get injured. Although Mutch got up and shook himself down, grabbing a drink from the physio, Theophile-Catherine needed treatment. Inexplicably the referee, Neil Swarbrick, who had a poor game in my view insisted both players left the field having been "attended to" by the physio. Whilst that might be what the rule book says, the law is an ass in this scenario. Through no fault of their own therefore, City were down to 9 men, and Swarbrick then restarted play with City having to defend a corner two men light, from which Skrtel headed home.

This rule that players have to leave the pitch after getting treatment has to be looked at by those that govern football. As often as not, it's the defending team that is penalised by this ridiculous rule. Mutch & T-C were genuinely hurt by the ball, but they have to go off leaving us 9 men to defend a corner. Ludicrous. If the referee thinks a player is pulling a fast one when he goes down, just stop the bloody clock. Players would soon stop rolling around time wasting, if as soon as a player goes down the watch was stopped, and they knew that time would be made up, instead of it still being pretty much guesswork as to how much "added time" the man in black will allocate. After some of the added time I've seen given this season from supposed elite referees, I'm beginning to wonder if any of them can actually count, or know how to use a stopwatch.


When first Sturridge and then Suarez made it 5-2, it was well and truly over for the Bluebirds. Mutch grabbed a late second to make it 5-3, but the referee had one more poor decision left. In the dying minute the ball was whipped upfield to Suarez who appeared to bundle over a City player before slotting past Marshall on a 1 on 1 situation. My unshakeable belief, is that had than been Kenwynne Jones at the other end, Swarbrick would have blown for a foul.

On the downside, we conceded 6, the referee was poor and yet again we didn't get the rub of the green on any 50-50 decisions.

On the upside, we scored 3, including one from a front man, against an in form title chasing team. In addition, all the teams around us lost, so we didn't fall any further adrift, but it's very much a case of "as you were".

A further positive was the great support, and the sea of blue, which even a short-sighted arrogant man like Vincent Tan could not ignore.

Do I think we can escape the drop? If we play like we did today, against those teams we have left to play and win, most especially West Brom, Palace and Sunderland then perhaps. But that's a HUGE "if", and personally I can't see it happening.

Friday, February 28, 2014

4G: Godsend or liability?

I have recently received notification from O2 that I can now access 4G. Sure enough my free 4G bolt on has been activated on my iPhone 5s (by the way it's space grey, not gold as O2's 4g checker insisted). In the week or so I've had this enabled, I haven't seen a 4G signal anywhere near where I live in South Wales.

Also, for information (bear with me, this becomes relevant shortly), I have a 1Gb data "bolt on". I've recently upped this from 500mb a month as a couple of times I've just tipped over the 500mb a month limit. I also NEVER stream video unless I'm on a wifi connection.

Yesterday I travelled to London on a 2 day business trip. I was delighted as my train approached London to see a 4G signal, and indeed, the connection on the normal apps I use (Twitter, Facebook, email, seemed quick).

Last night in my hotel room I checked my data using the O2 app and saw that I had 943 Mb available for the remainder of my contacted month (to 25th March). As I had a 4G signal, I attempted an iPhone FaceTime (video) call home to my wife. This turned out to be very short because the connection at one end (not sure whose) wasn't great. According to the call log, the call lasted 2 minutes and used 5Mb of data. Then, using my iPhone in no different way than I normally do, including some limited tethering to my iPad, by about 8pm my remaining data had dropped from 943mb to about 740mb. Odd, but I wasn't entirely alarmed.

By this time my iPhone was sat on the desk in my hotel room and although it was tethered to my iPad, the ONLY thing I was actively doing was watching a film on the iPad. It's important to note that the video file was actually physically on the iPad (that is, it was NOT being streamed to the iPad from anywhere). The iPhone had no open apps running (as far as I could tell).

Imagine my surprise therefore when my iPhone text alert went off at 21.17 to say I had used all my UK data for the month!!!!! Somewhere between about 8pm and 17 minutes past 9 I had used almost 3/4 gig of data doing nothing other than looking at twitter and during which time I had streamed no video or used any other data intensive apps, and was predominantly watching a local video file on my iPad about 6 feet away from my iPhone.

I immediately bought (rather begrudgingly) a further 1GB bolt on as I've still got nearly a month before my data monthly rolling contract end. At the time of writing this, about (24 hours later), according to O2's app, I have only 420mb of that available, so the best part of another half gig of data has disappeared.

What the hell is going on? How can I have used nearly 1.5Gb data in around 4 hours, doing nothing other than the things I normally do, that in any normal month, leave me using around 500mb data?

The ONLY difference as far as I can see has been the enablement of 4G and being in a 4G area. 4G should use MORE data, it should just make it quicker.

I am perplexed, and if this is the 4G experience, then frankly I don't want it.

So, I spoke to a very pleasant girl at O2 tonight who told me that although this amount of data consumption was unusually high, it was because she could see that my phone was downloading "updates" at 12 midnight and 3am and this was consuming the large amounts of data.

Now I'm REALLY perplexed. According to my phone iTunes and App Store settings, automatic downloads is turned ON for music and apps (though I've downloaded none of either in the last few days, and is OFF for updates. Additionally the "use cellular data" (for automatic downloads and iTunes Match (which I don't use) is OFF.

Basically, the girl on the O2 call told me that was that. She was sorry, but couldn't offer anything other than suggesting I take the phone to an Apple Store to have it checked.

I can't see that's going to help. I'll keep a close eye on my data use age, but worryingly I suspect that my two day jaunt into a 4G area has something to do with this. It shouldn't have, but there's no other conclusion I can draw

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini

Saturday, February 22, 2014

An Apple a day

OK I admit it. I'm an Apple fan.

Not a "fanboi" in the sense that I don't believe in any tech other than that coming out of 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, but over the last 5-6 years I've slowly moved to an entirely Apple setup.

As the photo shows, I now have the complete set. An iPhone 5s, an iPad Mini, a 13" Macbook Pro, and the latest addition, a 21" iMac desktop.

I don't hate Windows as an operating system - I use it every day in work, and there's at least 3 Windows boxes/laptops loitering around the house. My Apple kit though offers everything I need, in every form factor I need (for the moment). And I'm very happy with it. It works, it synchronises together seamleslsy, and combined that many of my "go to" applications are now cloud based (Dropbox, Evernote, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail etc) it means I always have access to what I need.

I've been fortunate enough that circumstances have allowed me to migrate to Apple devices on a "want" basis - I want it, I don't "need" it. And I'm grateful for that.

The latest piece of kit is that gorgeous 21" iMac. It's the "base" model - but that still comes in at a hefty price. In part you're paying for the Apple brand, but you do get what you pay for. All my Apple devices are stunningly designed, they work pretty flawlessly, and they last a long time.  My Macbook Pro is over 4 years old now, and but for a swap out of the original hard drive for a bigger SSD a couple of months ago, and a RAM boost a couple of years ago, works as well now as it did when I first got it. And it still looks as good as new. The iMac though is the pick of the bunch. It wouldn't look out of place anywhere. It's amazingly thin considering that monitor house all the gubbins. There's only 1 lead - the power lead. It's a work of art. the mouse and keyboard are wireless - the keyboard itself is stunningly engineered - how can you say that about something as mundane as a keyboard?

It's kit that wants to be used. And it's a pleasure to use it.

Grim and Grimmer

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post call The fat lady is gargling, ahead of the Bluebirds "must win" match against Norwich (which they did indeed win - just).

Since then we have been thumped by Swansea, scraped a draw with Villa, and have been beaten by Wigan in the FA Cup. Today's 0-4 loss to Hull, means in our last 4 games we've scored 1 and conceded 9. All pretence of the fat lady gargling can be cast aside. She's warbling, and City, bar an absolute miracle are doomed to relegation and Championship football next term.

Today's match against another team who are having their history and tradition messed with was dire if you were a Bluebirds fan. Devoid of ideas, lacking fight in some areas, and low on confidence, we were soundly thrashed by a side who at the start of the season we were suggesting we'd finish comfortably above. As things stand, everyone is sitting above us. Everything that could go wrong today did, and even the 50/50 decisions went against us, whilst Hull looked up for it! broke quickly with confidence and benefited from some sloppy City play. I've never been a fan of Steve Bruce as a manager, but he clearly has his team playing as a unit.

Yes, we're "only" 4 points from safety, but we don't look like scoring, let alone winning one of the probably 5 from the last 11 that we'd need to win to be in with a chance of staying up.

And what makes it worse, is that since Malky went, we've gone significantly backwards in my opinion. Ole clearly doesn't know what his best 11 is, and on the evidence of the last half dozen matches, we have very few players who are capable of cutting it at this level, despite a rash of signings by the new manager.

Football is awash with opinions, and everyone has their own view. For me, Marshall and Noone have been a class above anyone else in a City shirt. Caulker and Cala look a solid partnership in a short time together. Mutch, when he's fit brings a positivity that is sadly lacking from others.

Campbell works hard but gets little decent ball to work with. Jones blows hot and mostly cold. Eikrem doesn't offer anything that Whitts, or Gunnar could. Daehli is good on the ball, quick, but has yet to deliver anything really incisive. Of the full backs, John and McNaughton shade it over KTC and Taylor with Fabio's defensive ability AWOL.

And of the manager? OGS was a superb player and clearly has done a job with Molde in the Norwegian League. But I'm not convinced. Tactically we seem to have gone backwards. His preference for an attacking style of football hasn't materialised. The defensive structure and discipline built and instilled by Malky appear to have disappeared.

Confidence means a lot of course, but City are devoid of that, and I can't anything that can change that happening.

To see huge numbers leaving the game at 3-0, and then 4-0 was hardly surprising, but still very sad. This should have been a celebration season, but it's felt more like a funeral.

Today I've seen a lot of tweets from people saying that that's it, and it'll be relegation. In all honesty, much as I've tried to be positive this season, I have never thought we had enough to stay up, even before the season began. I'm sorry I couldn't be more positive, but a couple of surprise games this season apart, nothing I've seen changes that view.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The fat lady is gargling...

It's been a tumultuous year or so for Cardiff City. After then new owner Vincent Tan apparently "saved" the club with his cash injection, we were on a high. Then he unilaterally changed the kit from blue to red. We were devastated. Then he changed the badge to something akin to a beer  mat. We were even more devastated. Some supporters gave up the ghost vowing never to return until the club was restored to it's "pre-Tan" state. Others, were unhappy at the changes but vowed to keep supporting the club. Other, newer supports joined the ranks, and didn't care too much either way, and a few embraced the changes.

I made a point earlier this season about new supporters, and I want to clarify one thing. Sure, some jumped on board because of the Premier League bandwagon, and if that's the way they roll, fine. They'll probably fall off when we go back to the Championship. Other though are just new supporters. There's churn in supporters every year - fact. So it's unfair to supporters who have only known red (albeit they may be very young in the main) with "supporting" VT's changes - they're not. They're supporting Cardiff City.

Anyway, with that off my chest....

Then (in lucky red) we got promotion to the PL. Obviously we wouldn't have done wearing blue chuckled Vinnie to himself. And we started the PL on...well if not a roll, then with some encouragement. That huge win against Manchester City, a point off United, the fantastic win against Jacks. But somewhere along the way, the wheels started falling off. Ian Moody, head of recruitment went, to be replaced by a painter. The rift between VT & Malky who most though to the one of the best managers City had ever had widened to breaking point. VT even managed to boo the team after a match. What sort of an owner does that - in public? The points dried up and the inevitable happened when Malky was given his P45.

The circumstances will probably never be fully know to anyone apart from a few select people. VT, Malky, Mehmet Dalman and probably Simon Lim. Us mere mortals will never know, or at best sometime long in the future when autobiographies get published, we will hear only one side of the story.

All I know, is that there's rarely smoke without fire, and something very fishy has happened somewhere. The Cornelius signing is being cited as the catalyst, but again, we'll probably never know.

So, in comes Ole, and bang, we win in his first match ,an FA Cup win over Newcastle, and all's rosy again. But it's the FA Cup, not the Holy Grail of the League, where we still can't get any points, perhaps expectedly given our January fixture list, although the showing v the Hammers was woeful.

But new signings have come in, and player have gone out. Odemwingie's fleeting, and largely unsuccessful dalliance has ended. Hands up, I though he was a decent signing, but he just didn't perform, The bizarre saga of Cornelius has ended with him going back from whence he came - at a huge cost to the Bluebirds. I don't think he deserves the flack - he's young, and was injured, but whether he was worth £8m?

And so, to the moment. A huge game against fellow strugglers Norwich. New signings on board and available. 3 points would be absolutely massive. A draw or loss, hard to deal with. Can we do it? We can only wait and find out. Do I think we have enough to stay up? No. I think the fat lady is gargling, and it won't be too log before she starts warbling.

It's hard to admit that I think we'll be back in the Championship next year, but unless something dramatic happens in the next couple of months, that's where we'll be. I wonder what Vinnie will be saying then? Lucky red? He'll probably blame it on the times we wore blue. Or Malky. Or Cornelius. Or Moody. Or someone else.

Someone once said to me a long, long time ago. "Never trust a man who wears his trousers above his belly button".

The Bluebirds took all three points in a gritty encounter. After falling behind on 5 minutes, two goals in a minutes early in the second half swung the game dramatically. City held off an onslaught by Norwich late on to grab the spoils. It wasn't pretty, but who cares.

Pssst! Where does your food come from?

As I was helping my good lady put away today's Tesco shopping, I happened to notice that the apples were sourced from France. Interest piqued, I started to look at some other items. This is what I found.

Apples - France
Bananas - Colombia
Pears - Netherlands
Satsumas - South Korea
Grapes - South Africa
Wild rocket - Italy

And that's just the fresh stuff. Add into that some wine from New Zealand, and I'm sure if I started rooting through the cupboards, fridge and freezer, I'd find a lot more stuff that had its origins far from these shores. I didn't though. More because her indoors would wonder what the hell I was doing rather than any lack of interest on my part!

Does this matter at all though? Well, I'm sure there are varying views with the inevitable polar extremes.

On the one hand it does matter - but for different reasons. For the producing countries it's welcome business. For the consumers it's the opportunity to have to hand produce and victuals that would otherwise be at best only seasonal in the UK, and even then some would be impossible on an economic scale - have you ever tried growing bananas in the UK?

The downside of course is the massive, massive logistical and ecological cost of shifting this stuff around the planet. Think how many container ships, planes and trucks there must be moving this around our seas, airspace and roads. I can't even begin to contemplate it. Then there are the arguments about the human costs of producing the stuff. Low wages, poor conditions etc, but I'm sure that's not universal.

But just think about it next time you eat a banana or satsuma. I eat a banana from half way across the world. A country I've never been to, and am unlikely ever to visit. Oh, that satsuma - it's from half way across the world but in the opposite direction. Somewhere else that to me its just more known for its export of footballers.

I'm not trying to state a particular argument for or against produce from other countries (and I like bananas and grapes anyway). But I think that we just take for granted sometimes that food comes from Tesco's or Asda's or Morrisons (or indeed Lidl, Aldi or the local corner shop), rather than realistically from another continent.

Just think about that for a moment.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tech decisions

I'm a bit a of a sucker for gadgets and computers as I've probably mentioned on a few occasions previously. I currently rock an ageing Windows 7 desktop PC, a four year old MacBook Pro, recently upgraded with a 256GB SSD, an iPhone 5s and an IPad Mini - and that's before I get to cameras, camcorders, and other shiny gadgets that do all sorts of different things.

My W7 desktop is dying. To be honest I don't use it that much these days, but when I do it crashes with unfailing regularity. Everything might freeze, or I get the dreaded "blue screen of death" (BSOD). I've done all the usual reinstall, virus and malware checks, blown out dust, reseated memory and video cards, but it's on it's way out.

An opportunity has presented itself to invest in a new box, and relatively speaking, money isn't an issue. But I don't really know what to do. Here are my options and current thinking.

1. Do nothing. Put the PC out of its misery and ditch it. Most, and if I'm absolutely honest, all, my computing needs are handled by my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro laptop. I don't really "need" another device. No expenditure, save perhaps sticking another 4GB memory into the MBP, but that would be a "nice to" rather than "need to".

2. Buy another Windows desktop. Not overly expensive, updates current kit. But not fussed on Windows 8.

3. Buy a Mac Mini. Not much more expensive than a Windows box. Nice kit, small, unobtrusive, powerful enough, fits with all my other Apple kit.

4. Chuck all logic out of the window (sic) and buy an iMac. Looks beautiful, more than enough power, and Apple consistency again.

Option 1 seems to be the most sensible approach. Why spend money on something, when I can just about do all I need to with my other kit? I keep coming back to the "need" thing. I don't need to, but sometimes life isn't just about need. Sometimes it's about doing something because you can. At the moment though, I'm not sure what it is I want. I'm going to have to ruminate on this a bit.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini