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.