Euro 2008

So England are out too. To be honest, and this is going to sound like a bitter Scotsman (too true), they never deserved to go through on not just tonight’s performance but their performance through out the whole qualifying stages. To be given a second chance by Israel and then blow it tonight on home soil with a real lack of guts and determination is pretty shocking.

McClaren was also pretty surprising. His demeanour was of a man sucked of any confidence or drive. Maybe that’s pressure, the press, the job. For whatever reason, he doesn’t look like a man to lead an international team. Standing with that brolly on the touchline trying to stay dry – nothing wrong with it really but it just sent out the wrong image. I guess it’s bye bye for him.

So no home nations at Euro 2008. Great attempts at qualifying from Northern Ireland and particularly Scotland. Terrible effort from Wales, Rep of Ireland and in particular England though. Room for a home nations tournament next year perhaps? Our footballers haven’t much else to do.

One last thought. Why is the Wembley pitch in such a bad state? For a stadium to cost THAT much money and have THAT bad a playing surface is a disgrace. To blame NFL and concerts is a bit rich. It cut up badly in the FA Cup final and has never looked in any way decent for a stadium with such a proud history.

Another Fine Mess

So the government has just lost the personal details for 25 million UK citizens who are claiming child benefit. Unbelievable.

“The missing information contains details of all Child Benefit recipients: records for 25 million individuals and 7.25 million families. “

That quote was from Alistair Darling and it’s the first time I’ve heard gasps from the House of Commons. Grand theatre or genuine shock it matters not – this was an amazing statement to be making from a government who are hell bent on forcing through an ID card system that is costly, hard to justify and one wonders just how secure it will be. Type of data missing…only:

  • National insurance number
  • Name, address and birth date
  • Partner’s details
  • Names, sex and age of children
  • Bank/savings account details

Enough to rip off your identity, have a good old stab at you security details on many online accounts and websites and generally ruin a lot of peoples life’s if the details fall into the wrong hands. Biggest shock of all is that this data was sent via TNT on a couple of password protected disks. What?!? It was sent on the 18th of October but senior management didn’t know it was missing until November 8th and the Chancellor on November 10th. Why has it taken so long for this to become public? That is an absolute disgrace.

It’s for the delay and also the Northern Rock fiasco which could cost taxpayers a lot of money that Darling really should step down. He’s a lame duck chancellor and he looks defeated every time he speaks in parliament now. In some ways it’s a shame as I thought he was fairly competent but not now. In fact when I hear his name I just think Blackadder.

Darling: Good luck, Blackadder.
Blackadder: Why, thank you, Darling. And what’s your big job here today? Straightening chairs?

Random Stuff

  • Picked up a new router as the old Linksys was starting to misbehave with Xbox Live. The D-Link DIR-655 has performed admirably since purchase with no issues to report. The wireless N has also increased speed for the laptop and has a far better range than the G Linksys. Gigabit ethernet has also increased speeds from the NAS and web sites and downloads are also a lot snappier. A great purchase!
  • Turned 34 last week. Getting old. Fast.
  • Spaces on the laptop works really well.
  • Still not bought an iPhone 🙂 Getting over the initial urge is the biggest hurdle on holding off for version 2. Christmas is next followed by official app’s in Feb.
  • Leopard is performing well although there are a few niggles here and there like images not dismounting or Finder taking a while to refresh. Nothing big really.
  • Four shopping weekends to Christmas – not got a clue what to get.
  • Weight loss still progressing well. I’ll do a proper progress post later in the year.
  • Some job changes at work are in progress. Hopefully. Maybe. Probably.
  • If you miss OS X hierarchical folders then OldFolder is for you.
  • The new Worpdress plugin update feature is great. Makes managing plugins a lot easier than it used to be.
  • Shut down Forza Leagues this weekend. We put a lot of effort into it but unfortunately the game and the small community let us down really. It still niggles just how much people demanded from the site and the admin team but put little back in themselves. It’s the first time I helped to run a community site and it’s an experience I don’t fancy repeating soon. Once bitten.
  • Still got a really nasty cold. Tiredness now gone but the snot hasn’t.
  • COD4 is the new Halo 2. The abuse and shouting before a game is tiring. If the dev’s could have picked up one thing from the beta or Halo 3 it should have been a quick method of muting and no way of hearing the other team until AFTER the match. Still, it’s a great game and the upcoming patch should address the small issues the game currently has.
  • OmniFocus now available. Looks nice and integrates well with iCal and Mail. Need to see how it stacks up against iGTD which is free and includes .Mac syncing.
  • Car passed it’s MOT with little trouble. I’ve had the Focus for six years now. While I’d like a new car, I don’t really need one so I’ll have it for a while yet I’d imagine.
  • Only four more weeks at work before I stop for Christmas break….and three weeks off. Bliss.

Emotion

Never has a football game been more looked forward to than tonight’s Scotland – Italy match. All week I’ve been getting more and more excited about it, more and more drawn in to the drama and passion surrounding it. Flower of Scotland has never been sung more louder at Hampden I reckon. Never have I felt so cheated and so down after a game of football.

We got off to the worst possible start and lost a really soft goal. To many not paying attention, Toni given too much room. At times we looked a real second best and a cracking Gordon save followed by a great decision by the linesman kept the score 0-1 going in to half time. But we had hope. Hutton came close and Weir’s header was cleared of the line. Second half was certainly better for Scotland. Hutton started to make the run’s we’ve become used to, Brown roamed as the game opened up and from a poor free kick we scrambled an equaliser. I went mental!! We had another glorious chance that McFadden just couldn’t connect cleanly with but it looked like a great draw for us and a nail biter on Wed as France went to Ukraine looking for a win. Italy brought on a defender and we seemed to have defended a late attack as Hutton covered in defence and then got fouled on the ball. WHAT? Crazy decision. The ref (bastardo) gave the Italians the free kick and they promptly scored. Game over, Scotland failed to qualify again.

I’m still gutted, almost empty at the loss. However it would be too easy to dwell on negatives, to familiar to adopt the unlucky loser mentality. Scotland have had a great campaign, one of their best ever and if it wasn’t for the group of death we were drawn in then who knows. To get to the position we were in tonight with three of the top ten teams in the world, the world cup runners up and the world cup holders is amazing and the whole Scotland team, past and present management and especially the supporters should take a huge amount of credit and also a massive amount of confidence into the soon to be drawn world cup campaign. Bring it on!

Stacks Tweak

The ever changing stacks icon is a bit of a distraction on the Leopard dock. However thanks to a really smart idea and some well designed icons stacks can now have boxes to hold the contents. XD has the info on what to do using these well designed icons.

Stacks

Much better. Also notice the Firefox icon next to the minimized widow – a nice touch that helps identify which app is minimized. I’m sure this wasn’t in tiger. The stack when opened will show your chosen stack icon first but this actually looks pretty good, almost as if the container is shown and then the objects within.

Stacks Open

Blog Comments

Looks like there is some competition for your blog comments. Disqus and Intense Debate are both offering plug-in’s which really will change how your blog comments look and feel. User profiles, threaded comments, comment rating and even a forum for your comments are offered by both. I’ve not tried either as I would have two main worries.

1) Where are the comments held and could I move to another service with ease or just back to WordPress?

2) Spam!

Ultimately one of these (there are other services too) will start to dominate and maybe then I’ll take a look. It would be great if some of the bigger sites like Digg or BBC supported one of these services so you could have a standardised commenting system to use on any site. Certainly Intense Debate seems to have the most features, including OpenID support but their name is really bad. One to keep an eye on.

Recommended Mac Apps - Updated

I posted a list of my favourite Mac app’s almost a year ago. With advent of leopard and some badgering from other’s, here’s an updated list of what I would install on my mac.

delicious.jpgDelicious Library
http://www.delicious-monster.com/
$40

I’ll admit this is a very non-essential app but was the first I bought for the Mac. Delicious Library allows you to catalogue, store, rate and search your music, films, games and books. There are many other media cataloguers out there but none look so good as Delicious Library or carry out the task with such elegance. Using the iSight I can scan in media barcodes for easy compiling of the library. The virtual shelf allows for browsing of titles, the app comes with spotlight support, a widget for easy title searching and option to export the library to iPod. There isn’t much in the way of web exports though (although the DeliciousSQLExport utility allows for exporting of the library to MySQL) and you can’t add your own media types. Coming soon is Delicious Library 2 which promises a fancier user interface, publishing and sharing capabilities and support for a lot more media types. Can’t wait.

YojimboYojimbo
http://www.barebones.com/products/yojimbo/
$39.00

This was the first app I installed after Leopard. It’s an app that groups together miscellaneous items into one place. You can store text, rich text, PDF’s, serials, passwords and web page snapshots. It’s support tagging and also folders/projects and I’ve found it invaluable over the last few months as I took on a number of projects in my own time that needed a fair bit of management. It also support Spotlight searching and importantly for me, .Mac syncing. This means the Yojimbo library is the same on the desktop and laptop. As it uses the same storage method as Aperture there are some compatibility issues with Time Machine but I’m sure these will be addressed over the next month or so.

Continue reading “Recommended Mac Apps – Updated”

Leopard Thoughts

I’ve used Leopard for around a week now (seeing as I didn’t pirate it) which has given me time to get used to the new features on offer. I’ve pulled together some thoughts below on the main features that impact me but for a detailed review read Ars Technica’s Leopard review. Their Leopard review is the best (and longest) I’ve seen not only covering the obvious new features and graphical changes but also what has altered under the hood.

First Impressions
On logging in to Leopard you notice the most obvious visual change – the new pseudo 3D dock. Instead of a flat dock as in Tiger the icons are displayed on a pretend three dimensional shelf. Reflections of the icons are shown on the shelf as well as any windows above the dock. The icons are no longer bound within the dock and can encroach on your app’s. In Tiger small black triangles indicated the currently running app’s but they have been replaced with blurry glowing lights which don’t stand out very well against the shelf.

Tiger Dock
Original Tiger Dock

Leopard 3D Dock
New 3D Leopard Dock

I like my graphical flourishes as much as the next geek but when they come at the expense of usability then it grates. The new dock tells me less than previously and takes up more room. Move the dock to the left or right and you get a far more usable dock – if only you could swap the dock when placed at the bottom of the screen to this. There’s no default option but a variety of ways to solve this are available.

Leopard 2D Dock
Leopard 2D Dock – far more usable

The next new feature is Stacks. Continue reading “Leopard Thoughts”