Playlist

From The Herald’s review of last nights St Johnstone – Rangers game…

How’s this for a playlist? Money by Pink Floyd, Money, Money, Money by ABBA, Money for Nothing by Dire Straits and Money’s Too Tight to Mention by Simply Red. The cruellest selection was Bruce Springsteen’s classic, Glory Days, and Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash was labouring the point. With this soundtrack blaring in the background, Boyd limbered up impervious to the supposed resurrection of his £3.75m transfer.

Made me laugh – much like Rangers first goal.

Sunday Night Blues

What a lazy weekend. Potentially the only productive output from this weekend is this post. Embarrassing. Especially when this post is just really a thoughts post. A post made up of tweets really. OK, long tweets.

  • Starting on a high, aren’t the Olympics just superb! I’ve spent most of the weekend in front of the TV or the BBC Olympics site watching the Brit’s success. Unbelievable. Usain Bolts run was jaw dropping, Michael Phelps achievements will probably go unmatched for decades, it’s a great games so far. Still a week to go so plenty chance for more British golds. A week before Boris Johnson is handed the Olympic flag. Mind boggling. Seb Coe did joke that 5000 Morris dancers would be used for Britain’s eight minute segment during the closing ceremony but it does make you think – what will we do?
  • iPhone is still causing me grief. App’s have stopped working three times in a fortnight meaning a re-install to get them going. My paid app’s now work as my account history has been restored but if they fail I can’t download them again – I need to buy them again. Apple have assured me that they are trying to fix my issues and that they have noted to get in touch with me again. Cheers.
  • New app that came out on Thursday on the iPhone is Simplify Media which allows you to stream music to your iPhone from your home computer – Mac, Windows or Linux. It’s buggy but when it works it’s superb. Worked well for me over 3G too. You can also invite friends who can listen to your library and vice versa. If they can iron out the bugs and make it more reliable this takes away the size issue of the iPhone. All my music…anywhere. Some screens from the app below.
  • Simplify Media
    Simplify Media

    Simplify Media

  • Weight loss has stalled. However stall is no surprise as I’ve been eating more and doing less exercise. So need to get back to what I was doing as I want to lose a bit more by the end of the year. So it was back in the saddle today with a 19mile cycle. Felt good.
  • Contemplating blog restyle. Again. In fact, contemplating blog and what I should do with it. Again. It’s not really doing what i want and I’m not publishing what I really want to publish. What to do?
  • Last iPhone comment – here’s why I waited for 3G iPhone:

    3g – download – 1.67mps (1666kbps/203kB/s)
    3g – upload – 0.25Mbps (254 Kbps / 31kB/s)

    Edge – download – 0.34 Mbps (340 Kbps / 42kB/s)
    Edge – upload – 0.05 Mbps 949 Kbps / 6 kB/s)

    Quite a difference and the 3G makes it usable, unlike edge which can be pretty frustrating.

  • Everyone seen Dark Knight then? I had a draft post that I couldn’t be bothered finishing off. Basically it said ‘I loved the Dark Knight’ and I’m a Batman geek. It’s dark and very true to the comic featuring many characters and scenes from comics like Hush and Long Halloween. Watching in the Imax was pretty special and the opening robbery scenes and those in Hong Kong were amazing. Heath Ledgers Joker was very impressive and contrasted so well with Batman. Film ended on a muted note but that felt the right thing to do. Loved the real world feel of it all. Using special effects sparingly I think emphasised the fact that Batman is a normal guy – no special powers. Lot’s of gadgets but no powers. Hopefully there will be a third in a few years time.
  • Rangers have made some interesting signings in the last four days. Pity they weren’t three weeks ago when they might have made a difference. Someone needs to be held accountable for why these signings took so long.
  • One last moan. Dog owners especially the one that lets their dog shite at my front gate. Fuck off please. Thanks.

Another word for miscellaneous?

  • Just had a great week of work. Weather was glorious and I got a lot done around and outside the house. Also organised for the fireplace to be removed and replaced with something nicer and safer. It turns out our chimney is a bit defective and potentially dangerous so that needs a new lining. A horribly messy job awaits but needs must and it means I’ll need to decorate afterwards. Just hope the back gets a bit better as it’s very sore today. Too much straining this week.
  • Loving the Thunderbirds Specsavers advert.
  • GTA IV. Metacritic shows it’s the highest rated game. Ever. While reviews and scores are all pretty subjective it certainly is a must own title. The world simulation is so impressive. You can easily lose yourself in the game and forget about doing any missions. Driving around, phoning people, taxi runs, sight seeing, surfing the net etc. So much to do and it’s so enjoyable doing it. Mission have been pretty good so far although I’m only 15% into the game. Multiplayer is also starting to show some hidden depths. The free race modes are a great laug and very unpredictable. Cops n crooks is also a favourite with a lot of strategy required behind a seemingly simpe concept. This game has months of gameplay. Whenever I load it up I do a couple of missions and a little exploring – a great mix which is keeping the game very fresh.
  • Battlestar series 4 is a return to form so far. Certainly up there with series 1 & 2. Episode 3 is a highlight so far.
  • Summize is a nice way of searching for topics on Twitter. Also let’s you track tweets on topics you are interesed in – iPhone for example.
  • Scottish football – totally mismanaged. I hate the fact we still have the split in the SPL and no winter break. We also need more movement between the leagues. Having only one team drop from the SPL just isn’t enough. In fact, four leagues is too much. Two bigger leagues would be far more interesting and sustainable for Scotland. However the biggest joke has been the lack of support for Rangers in their Eufa Cup quest. Back in 2003 Cetic were given a free week before the final to help them prepare. Not so Rangers who have been forced to play two games against strong opposition the week before their final. Shame.
  • Can’t wait for the final on Wednesday night though. Changed flight so that I can get back to Glasgow from Bristol on Wednesday afternoon. I just hope there are no delays!!! Do not fail me Easyjet. Do not dare!
  • Not that it will be this year (and probably won’t be until end of next) but I’ll replace the desktop Mac and laptop Mac with…one laptop. Keeping data in sync between the two is easy with .Mac but it’s keeping software installed on both that’s a pain and to be honest the only thing I’d miss is the desktop real estate. A 24 inch screen is very nice and is far more productive than a laptop’s screen. One option to consider is a screen for the laptop but that’s way in the future. Resolution independent software and higher res screens may be a reality by the end of 2009.
  • Monotone is a photo theme for WordPress. It’s pretty simple but has nice archives and also colours each page by analysing the photo displayed on it. Very neat. I set up Crackle and Pop on WordPress.com and may use that to publish photo’s. Individual photo’s that is with links to Flickr sets. Time will tell – need to take mor ephoto’s first.
  • Gears of War 2 trailer. Looks very impressive. Roll on November.
  • Codemasters get the F1 licence. So yet again we’ll get an F1 game with great intro’s, great graphics but questionable handling (try the Race Driver demo to see what I mean). Maybe the 2009 rule changes will make for a better game…and a more exciting F1.

Dare to Dream

It wasn’t pretty and there’s been many times they’ve been outplayed but we’re there. Rangers have made it to the Uefa Cup Final! The quad is still on, the team is just about hanging together and the next three weeks will be a roller coaster ride but after tonight I’m on such a high that I can’t wait for the next games. Work plans will need to change as I’m due to be down in Bristol on the 14th. Doh!

I really thought we had no chance tonight but for all Fiorentina’s possession and chances they didn’t really threaten that much. They had a few good chances but we rode our luck and stuck to the game plan that’s seen us progress so well this season. No doubt I’ll get the usual anti-football, negative Walter jibes at work tomorrow but what do you do. Play to your strengths and use a bit of nouse or go for it when you don’t have the players to do so? Rangers away record this season has been amazing in both the Champions league and in the Eufa cup and their final spot is well deserved. Cannot believe the difference in a season. Walter Smith in much the same way he did with Scotland has turned around a failing team. He also created a team whose sum is far greater than it’s individual parts again much like he did with Scotland. Still can’t believe he didn’t get manager of the year. Travesty!

Roll on May 14th. Roll on Scottish League and Cup wins too.

Fifa or PES?

For the football loving gamer this is usually an annual question with an easy answer. If you prefer real stadiums, teams, leagues and players as well as some great graphics you pick Fifa. If you prefer subtle controls, a more realistic game and some flowing animations you pick PES. For me PES has always been an easy choice. Fifa suffered from repetitive gameplay, easy goal scoring and a real lack of challenge. PES was tough and I felt a better sim of football.

However the last release of PES on the 360 was disappointing. Stuttery graphics and more importantly gameplay that was far less fluid than the PS2 version had left a bad taste in the mouth. Online wasn’t bad but it wasn’t exactly glowing either. A subsequent patch had left it almost unplayable as it would drop half way through a match.

The demo’s for this years versions pointed to a far closer battle. PES was smoother in game than before but still stuttered badly in replays. Fifa felt very slow but had a lot more depth than previous versions. Both had camera issues but that was down to poor options in the demo.

Why I Bought PES
So I stumped up for PES yet again. The game was a lot better than last year with all in game stutter a memory that only returned during replays – they were awful! The gameplay was also smoother with a lot more depth and a nice feel to the game. Strict referee’s were back but once again i was happy with PES. Online though was a kick in the teeth. The first online PES 2 years ago was a mixed bag. Cheats could quit without penalty and the net code wasn’t the best. But it did allow 2 vs 2. Last years was less laggy but cheats could still prosper. Also the hosting was shared between the two gamers…meaning you could have a great first half if your hosting followed by a horrible, laggy, torrent spoiled second half. 2 vs 2 was also dropped.

This year still sees only 1 vs 1 and the couple of games I played were mixed. Seemed to go OK but after a period the lag was horrendous making the game unplayable. It was PES but only just. This was disappointing especially with Fifa promising online leagues, a way of playing for your team online and also a 5 vs 5 mode. To be honest I laughed when I read that – they’ve no chance of getting that to work well.

Why I bought Fifa
A couple of trusted friends eventually bought Fifa….and loved it. It didn’t have the depth or the fluidity of PES but online it rocked and the 5 vs 5 mode…..worked a treat. I’ve had the game over two weeks now and it is superb online. 1 vs 1 and up to 5 vs 5 is a very special game mode. Lag free and just a joy to play. It can be spoiled by greedy and mouthy players but played with a few friends is a great experience.

Graphically the game is good although sometimes the animations are a bit clunky. Sometimes the game can frustrate as it just isn’t as good as PES. However the online mode is so good you can overlook those issues.

You also have the ability to create your own public and private leagues, upload video’s and pictures to the net and take part in matches representing your team. Offline has much the same modes as PES but not to the same depth as PES master league.

So what should you buy?
If you only play offline, PES. If you are going to play online at all or never have done but like multiplayer gaming them Fifa is for you. It’s been a long time coming but Fifa has finally bettered PES this year for me. If only Konami could get near Fifa’s performance online – what a game that would be.

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.

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!

Scotland 3 - 1 Ukraine

It’s early days but a brilliant start to the game. To be two goals up within 10 minutes is unbelievable. Hopefully they can keep a clean sheet until half time. Two set pieces, two goals. Fantastic.

Update – another great win! It was looking a bit dodgy at 2-1 but McFadden stepped up again to give us a third. 24 points with two games to go. An unbelievable position but heartbreaking that we will likely need more than 3 points out of Georgia away and Italy at home to go through. The run of form has been tremendous and never did I think we would top a group containing Italy, France and the Ukraine.

Around two and a half years ago we were ranked 88th in the World. 18 months ago that had risen to 72. February this year saw us break into the top 20. We’re now ranked 13th which will make a massive difference to the World Cup qualifying campaign…but never mind that – there’s a Euro Championship place in our hands. Roll on Wednesday night.

Lyon 0 - 3 Rangers

What an amazing result. One of the best from Rangers in a long time, and easily their best result in Europe in recent years. Certainly the most surprising result in the Champions League tonight and also the best performance by a British team. We rode our luck at times but good defence and clinical finishing won the night.

So we’re joint top of the group with Barcelona. Suddenly talk is of qualification and what results we need to go our way. Great times that will hopefully lift their domestic performance. Bring on Barca…gulp!