Monthly Archives: January 2013

Transfer Deadline Day

Sky Sports presenters are like children on Christmas morning. If they get any more excited it’s possible they would actually burst. Not sure if there is actually any recorded cases of over excitement leading to bursting but we could be about to have one. The prospect of Manchester City loaning an 18 year youth player to Oldham or Stoke City signing a fourth choice goalkeeper is all to much for them. Love it or hate the Transfer Deadline Day does make for good and at times desperate television.

Around the grounds we go. Hour after hour of freezing cold reporters surrounded by local urchins hoping to catch a glimpse of their new signing. Scratch that. Hoping to get themselves on television. The sad reality of this twice yearly charade tends to be a lot of uninteresting moves by players most clubs are glad to get rid of. As ever the only club really spending money and attempting to grab headlines, as well as players, is the one managed by Harry Redknapp. The media friendly old rogue is currently employed by Queens Park Rangers where their owner can expect his wallet to be considerably lighter by the time ‘Arry has finished with it.

Up here in Scotland Deadline Day passes without much frenzy. With Rangers not only currently languishing in Division Three but also the subject of a transfer embargo, only their rivals Celtic are of any interest to the media. Even that interest is not what it was witnessed by the lack of people hanging around outside Celtic Park. All quiet on the eastern front. East End of Glasgow that is.

In the old days there was no transfer window. Teams could sign players as and when they liked. Not totally clear why they still can’t. Think I preferred it that way. Sky Sports and the assembled throng of the UK media clearly prefer the monster they have created in Deadline Day. It has is moments but not enough to justify the hype.

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A Cold Warning To Those Losing Weight.

I used to be around the 18 stones 6 lbs mark, or for those who you who prefer metric, somewhere in the vicinity of 116 kg. I was very rarely cold. I am now 12 stones 8 lbs, just under 80 kg. I have lost over 30% of my bodyweight. I am now almost always freezing cold. You will now struggle to see me without at least two layers on top and sometimes three, even in the house. Strange but true.

As it happens it’s probably not that strange. Compared to where I am now I previously covered my body in the equivalent of several thick jumpers and plenty more besides. Having shed that burden my body is naturally feeling it. Fingers in particular seem to have lost a lot of their covering and when out cycling my hands are regularly in danger of turning into blocks of ice, even when wearing thick gloves.

The solution. Well, I’m not sure there is one. Not planning to put weight back on. In time I think my body and I will adjust. Few more cardigans and base layers already added to my wardrobe. Hoping to put a bit of muscle back on over the year as I get out on my bike more and perhaps do some weights. This might help. Maybe it won’t.

So there you have it. If you need to lose weight then go for it, you can do it. Just be prepared to not feel quite as warm as you once did without additional clothing assistance.

Spotify Update

Ah well. If Spotify are going to offer a FREE trial month of their “Premium” service then why wouldn’t you take advantage. So of course I did. Means I get unlimited music on my laptop and phone for the next 30 days. No adverts and I can download and listen in offline mode. Thanks Spotify !

Note: If you take this free trial out then remember that if you don’t cancel before the 30 days runs out they will take your first monthly payment of £9.99. I have already set up multiple calendar alerts on my phone to remind me when the trial is nearly up.

What I’m Watching and What I’m Not Watching – Part 1

In our household the prime TV watching slot is when we are eating our tea in the evening. Yes, we are slobs who eat in the living room and not at a table. For that I don’t apologise. We use trays and even though some dinner ends up on our clothes most finds it’s destination. Anyway, I digress. Of more importance than how we eat is what we watch when we are doing it. Most programmes will either be on DVD or something we have recorded on our SKY+ HD box. The current hot and not so hots in our house are:

Hot

Lost (DVD) – Silly story about plane crash victims on a creepy island inhabited by Polar bears and other unlikely creatures. Love it. There are six seasons and we are nearing the end of season one. Good range of characters, each with plenty of back story. Think it will probably get increasingly silly in the seasons to come but nothing wrong with silly TV as long as it’s also interesting and fun.

Friday Night Lights (SKY Atlantic HD) – Currently on season three. Probably one of my favourite programmes of the last couple of years. Story focuses on a Texan high school football team called the Dillon Panthers. Core two characters are the team’s coach and his wife, who also happens to be the schools principal. Not actually a lot of football scenes in it but the ones they do have are usually fairly well done and not always as predictable as you may think. If you have never seen this you should watch it.

Not Hot

Blue Bloods (Sky Atlantic HD) – Struggled through the first couple of seasons of this New York based cop show. Centres around a family of policemen, ex-policemen and a lawyer. Feels like the Waltons meets Hill Street Blues. That said both of these aforementioned programmes were infinitely better than the resulting merger. Our household is currently a bit divided. I have given up completely on it whereas the good lady Doctor is willing to give it more time. For me it’s too heavy on paper thin plots, weak characters, religious overtones and it’s attempt to moralise leaves me cold. Some people probably love it and Tom Selleck does his best but I can’t help feeling if he wasn’t in it this show wouldn’t have got past the pilot.

Looking Forward To More of These

Breaking Bad (Season 5)
Mad Men (Season 6)
Dexter (Season 7)
True Blood (Season 6)
Boardwalk Empire (Season 4)

Last word for now. Anyone interested in reading reviews of the current crop of TV programmes, films and cinema releases could do worse than check out this site:

http://www.tvandfilmreview.com/

Virus Scans. A Necessary Evil ?

Yes I get the science. Virus’s can kill your computer. They can also be passed on and infect others as well as entire networks. Got it. So we need to make sure our pc’s and laptops remain free of the dratted techno-germs. However, does the scanning process need to be so slow ?

At work my desktop has a scheduled scan every day at 10am. For the next 90 minutes the PC runs like it has about 1K of RAM. I complained about it was told they know it is making PC’s slow but all they could offer was to reschedule it i.e. make my PC slower at another time of the day, great !

At home things are less dramatic but still annoying. We now have AVG Internet Security and after initially appearing relatively quick it too is now grinding on for ever. Similar to work the affect of the scan running is to make other areas of the desktop slower.

If anyone out in the world of virus scanning is reading my blog can I ask one question ? Will they always be this slow ? Getting to the stage that people will start turning them off and that could have disastrous consequences. Make them quicker, make them more often just do something !

Novak Djokovic Confirms His Status As “The Wizard of Oz”

Ok, ok. Apologies for the corny title but the fact is it sums things up nicely. The Serb won his fourth Australian Open this morning with a four set win over our very own Andy Murray (ps for those new to my blog I am Scottish as is Mr Murray !). This made is seven grand slam titles for the 25 year old from Belgrade, three in a row in Melbourne. Novak clearly enjoys the Australian courts and surroundings. I’m sure this year he will be out to further establish his position at the top of the men’s game by winning one of the non-Oz majors over the coming months.

Time Out – “Major”or “Grand Slam”. Some say one some say the other. Now seems in vogue to call what used to always be referred to as Slams as Majors. The GS term is now kept on ice by many to describe the feat of winning all four majors in one season. End of time out.

As for Andy. Have to say another fantastic achievement to reach the final of a major.Yes, he’s lost all but one, although each defeat has been to either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic. For Andy to have actually managed to win one of his finals was a monumental achievement no matter what else he does in his career. In such an incredibly tough era for men’s tennis to have won 25 titles including 8 Masters 1000, Olympic Gold plus of course his major at Flushing Meadows is a truly superb feat by the Brit. He has nothing to redress himself for after today’s defeat.

Last word for Novak. Have to say if Andy wasn’t around the Serb would probably be my favourite player. Fantastic athlete, tremendous sport and above all a sublime tennis player. Well done Nole. A true champion.

You’ll Never Need To Buy Music Ever Again

Well maybe, sort of, let me explain. For a couple of years I had of course heard of Spotify. Was never entirely clear what it was. Well I can now enlighten those, who perhaps like me, weren’t and still aren’t sure precisely what it is. Essentially it’s a music library you listen to like an internet jukebox. You don’t own any of the music, you just listen to it.  Currently there are three levels of subscription available:

1. Free – For this you get unlimited access to music for 6 months with adverts. The ads are similar to listening to commercial radio i.e. they are between tracks. Depending on the album you listen to the ads seem to be more or less frequent. They aren’t actually that annoying and after a while you almost tune out to them when they occur. After 6 months of this unlimited listening I think you are then restricted to a couple of hours a week. In short the free deal is really only for 6 months after which point it is still usable but in only short bursts.

2. £4.99 a month – Essentially the same as 1 except no ads i.e. unlimited music for as long as you keep paying.

3. £9.99 a month – Same as 2 except you get what are known as Premium Features. These extras include the ability to listen offline, mobile support (Options 1 and 2 are restricted to PC and Laptops) and exclusive content. Offline mode means you actually download the tracks to a mobile device but they are only readable using the Spotify mobile app i.e. you can’t then copy them and keep them for ever, well unless you keep paying.

At the moment I am just using the free subscription. Chances are I will upgrade to the £4.99 a month at some point soon. So no, the title of this blog was a lie. You will need to buy music, it’s simply that you can listen to a lot more of it for comparatively little outlay. Even at a tenner a month it’s only £120 a year which equates to buying and owning perhaps 24 cd’s at £5 each.

Seems a good deal to me.

Phone Upgrade 2013

Until 2011 I’d only ever had “Pay As You Go” deals on my mobiles. However, the evolution of the Smartphone (does that need capitals ?) changed all that. Why should any of us ever be distanced from the one we love the most i.e. the Internet. Well it’s obvious, we shouldn’t, hence time to get with the programme.

Net result was in 2011 I hooked up with T-Mobile and HTC to get a 2 year deal coupling the German’s giants network and the Taiwanese companies Desire HD handset. Have to say it was a happy arrangement. Good phone and unlike seemingly many people out there I didn’t have a single problem with my network provider.

As of 18/01 I was eligible for an upgrade. Sounded exciting and indeed it was. What made it even more fun was that T-Mobile had a sale on. To cut a relatively short story slightly shorter I have moved onto a Sony Xperia T. Contract is better, cost is a little less and the handset was free. In summary I have got an improved phone and plan for less money.

At the moment I am enjoying the new phone. Although I look at it more as a small computer which can make phone calls. Subtle but key difference. My other half also upgraded and is now fidgeting endlessly with her new Samsung Galaxy S3. She seems well pleased.

All in all a successful process and two satisfied customers.  Thanks T-Mobile.

Weigh In

Was on a fairly serious diet for most of 2012. I am now at, or being honest, below my goal weight. Naughty but dieting is a habit which is harder to break than you may think. I don’t want to be a fatty again. I’m fairly sure I won’t be a fatty again unless I lose control of my faculties  Can’t rule this out but I’m looking on the bright side for once.

Stepped on our wonderful wireless scales and the result was 79.8kg. No idea when I would have last weighed this much, or should I say little. For those who prefer it in old money we are in the ballpark of 12 stones 8 pounds. I used to be 18 stones 6 pounds, aimed for 14 stones and eventually targeted 13. Have a range which I want to settle in and currently I’m at the bottom end of that range.

Feb-Jun-Jan

No more weight to be lost. That’s the plan. Old habits need to be broken and new ones formed before I turn into a bag of bones.

ps. if you want to lose weight then count calories and exercise. This will help:

http://www.myfitnesspal.com

Match Postponed

Another Saturday without live football as Berwick’s Shielfield Park falls victim to the sudden blast of winter. Got to be honest and say I’m getting used to the feeling. After 30 years following Stirling around Caledonia I thought the leaving would be more painful. Not that I’m leaving but the strings are most certainly being loosened. For those not in the know this is my last season doing this:

http://www.stirlingalbionfc.com

From next season match reports, photos and all that jazz will be no more. Not quite true. Will post the odd match report on here when the mood takes me, which probably won’t be that often but I rule nothing out. I like writing things down so I’ll almost certainly feel the need to vent and describe at some point. Just don’t rely on me for it any more.

No game next weekend as the hapless Glasgow Rangers aka Sevco are likely getting scalped by Dundee United in the Scottish Cup. The Shire await on the following Tuesday at Forthbank. Can’t wait. Well, in truth I can.