Tuesday, February 14, 2006

And now for something completely different

In the cold light of day, I decided to remove a particularly expletive-filled Cabernet Sauvignon-fuelled rant about ID cards, or to be more accurate, the craven idiots who allowed this law to be passed. Let me just say this - putting aside all my idealogical and practical objections to this awful idea, as an IT professional I don't believe the Government has the expertise or management capability to make a project of such unprecedented scale work, and that administering it without significant errors - human, machine or malicious - will be next to impossible. Make no mistake - this is going to cost a fortune and it will NOT deliver any benefit whatsoever.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Consistently inconsistent

Following last week's great away result, you just knew another shocking home defeat was coming for Villa.

From the sounds of it, our makeshift midfield did as well as could be expected under the circumstances and we could and should have taken something from the game, but for me it just sums up the season. We'll get the odd result when we need one to keep us just clear of the drop zone, but the whole club is just marking time from top to bottom. If a takeover doesn't materialise soon, I really fear for our short-term future.


I've been laid up in bed (well, on the sofa) with a nasty cold for the last couple of days. Having played havoc with both my work and social diary, the only upside was that I had the perfect excuse to watch the entirety of both Six Nations games back-to-back yesterday.

The game in Paris was one of the most bizarre I've ever seen. The Irish were playing quite well, but for some inexplicable reason, kept gifting the French easy tries. Of the six tries Les Bleus scored, only one did not involve an obvious Irish blunder.

Having got themselves 40 points to the good after 50 minutes, without actually having any posession or field position to speak of, the French then completely switched off, and the Irish promptly ran in four tries of their own, to make the scoreboard look respectable. Ten tries may be a great advert for the game of rugby, but to my mind it showed up the glaring deficiencies in both teams. Makes you wonder if the French are going to stutter all through this tournament, and only fully switch on mentally when England are in town.

Down in Rome, the Italians turned in one of their best ever performances to make England work hard for their win. While I never felt worried about the result, even when Italy led by a point early in the second half, it was good to see one of the 'lesser' nations take the mighty English pack on with some degree of success.

Interesting also, despite the hype over the one-dimensional English approach, all four England tries came from the backs. Worsley and Moody really went to town in the second half, and the resulting quick ball allowed Charlie Hodgson to show why I think he's currently second only to Dan Carter in the world's premier outside-half stakes.

I think if Italy will work Scotland and Wales really hard - the Welsh in particular will have to raise their intensity from last week if they're to compete.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


As I've hinted in recent days, today was do or die for my career within my current company, and given how things have gone in the last 18 months, I was decidedly pessimistic about how things would go.

However, I'm shocked and delighted to say that everything I wanted has come to pass. I can now throw myself into my new assignment with renewed vigour, confident that my contribution is actually being appreciated.

I'm in a totally confused state now - I'd hyped myself up into throwing my toys out of the pram, and in actual fact it was all completely unnecessary.

I'll try and post something more coherent when I sort my life out...I apologise if this post appears self-indulgent, but I'm completely stunned about the day's events.

Dizzy, my head is spinning...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Western Imperialism

If this is the effect that the West has on Chinese Students, then perhaps oppression and censorship aren't so bad after all...

After my cryptic words yesterday, I have been given a hot tip that D-day is tomorrow. Will try and blog before I go down the pub and get plastered (either way), but I wouldn't hold your breath.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Home Life

Day off today - takes spending a 'normal' day at home to realise exactly how many hours I spend at work. After the kids got home from school/nursery, have had time to watch a new film with them (Jurassic Park III, which the 3 year old LOVED, he's mad about dinosaurs), give them a bath and put the dinner (roast lamb) on - all before 7pm, which is normally the earliest I get home.

Makes you wonder if the stress and long hours is worth the money...would I be happier earning less and having more relaxation time ? Decision day is rapidly approaching - watch this space !

Steelers Steal

So Pittsburgh win Superbowl XL, but I'd imagine there will be a very sour taste in the mouth of all Seattle Seahawks fans after that. Three very marginal and absolutely crucial calls by the officials all went Pittsburgh's way - a Seahawks touchdown ruled out early on for the slightest of push-offs, Roethlisberger awarded a touchdown when the ball appeared not to cross the goal-line, and most crucial of all, a completed pass to the one yard line - which would have given Seattle 1st and Goal to take the lead - was called back for a holding call that only the official appeared to see.

Having said that, Seattle didn't help themselves with some chaotic hurry-up offense at the end of each half, and Matt Hasselbeck losing his head and throwing a needless interception shortly after the holding call. Pittsburgh's game clinching touchdown was an outrageous trick play, which the reserve safety completely bought - we'll never know if their injured starter would have read it, but it was admittedly a great throw by wide receiver Randel El. On the whole, Pittsburgh played quite well, including Willie Parker running in the longest running touchdown in Superbowl history (75 yards) but if you ask me, the best team lost.

For my part, I was joined for the second half by son number two, who only fell asleep after the two minute warning when the game was over - I shall be having stern words with Mrs Infoholic tomorrow. I was logged onto a Yahoo chat forum for about an hour too, until my laptop did it's overheat-and-die trick again - sadly the natives all appeared to either be 12/13, or acting like it, or trying to attract kids of that age - the only sensible conversation I could get was from a fellow Brit.

All in all, not quite the great game I hoped for - scrappy, and punctuated by unjust calls. Bit disappointing really...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Call myself a geek...

Okay, so I wrote my first computer game when I was twelve (trust me - young for someone of my age), I have a degree in Computer Science, and I've worked in the IT industry for the last thirteen years. I'm well known as a quiz expert, I read Fantasy/Sci-Fi almost to the exclusion of all else, and I even went to a Star Trek premiere at Leicester Square once (no, I didn't dress up, although plenty did). All of which makes having to ask the following techie questions to the world at large rather embarrassing.

What's a good entry-level digital camera ? I'm not one for taking a lot of photos, but if I go away for the weekend, or do something with the kids, I'll want to take a few snaps along the way and shove them onto my PC. I'm currently looking at the Olympus FE-110 - 5 MegaPixels, 2.8 zoom and a 3.8cm screen seems good value for £100 to me - anyone know different or have an alternative ?

How good are the current breed of printer/scanners ? I've got an ancient Black Widow flatbed scanner, but no drivers or SCSI port to plug it into on my new PC, and my Epson printer hasn't worked for years. I reckon it'll cost more for the new interface and repairs than to buy a new USB device - anyone got any recommendations ?

Wrong Again

Well bloody hell, the Scots beat the French. And what's more, they thoroughly deserved to.

So to summarise, the game I said would be competitive, was the only one that wasn't.

Good job I don't gamble, I'd be living out of a cardboard box by now...


Another stolen image from H&V - had to be done.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Jingle Bells...

...oh what fun, it is to see, the Villa win away OH !

All right, so Middlesborough aren't playing very well at the moment, but that's still a good result in anybody's book. Haven't read the details or seen the highlights yet, but as Luke Moore scored a hat-trick and Kevin Phillips got the other, it sounds like O'Leary actually had the balls to drop his big signing (Baros), who has been awful in the last few games. I never thought he had it in him.

I've always thought Luke Moore had the ability, but until now he's always looked to lack confidence at the highest level. Having scored twice against Chelsea this season, and now bagged his first senior hat-trick, perhaps this will be the launching pad to greater things for young Luke. I sure hope so - nothing better than seeing local lads come through the ranks and go on to great things. Up and down week for the Moore family though, with big brother Stefan no longer wanted by QPR. I really thought he'd do well in the Championship - while he was never as talented as Luke, he's still quick and intelligent. Ian Holloway said similar things about HIS confidence - if he can work out the mental part of his game, he's still young enough to make a name for himself somewhere.

Return of the White Orcs on Steroids

So England exceeeded my expectations and totally destroyed the Welsh in the second half. For once, I totally agreed with Brian Moore's man-of-the-match choice on the BBC - Matt Stevens had an outstanding game in the loose today.

On this performance, England only need to find a creative alternative at inside-centre to have a very useful unit indeed. If everyone's fit, I'd also tinker a little by playing Voyce ahead of Cohen and Sanderson over Worsley (switching Moody to 6, as I said yesterday), but Andy Robinson's hardest call is going to be at Number 8 - Corry's a fine player and decent leader, but Dallaglio is still world-class and can make a difference. I thought the BBC got a bit ahead of themselves by talking about the Grand Slam - winning in Paris is no mean feat, and the French are further along the road to next Autumn than we are at the moment. I still expect us to come a close second this year.

And I apologise to the Italians - they were very unlucky to come away from Lansdowne Road with nothing, as I don't think the Irish grounded the ball properly for either of their two tries. Having said that, there were suspicions about a couple of England's scores, but at least that would hardly have made a difference.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Superbowl XL

Okay, the beers are in, Monday's day off has been booked - just need to purchase the popcorn.

Looking forward to this one - while obviously a bit of a comedown from recent years for us Patriots fans, I think this has the potential to be a classic. By replicating our 1985 run of three play-off wins on the road, taking some truly mighty scalps along the way, Pittsburgh will start marginal favourites at the bookies for this year's honours. Solid running game, increasingly impressive young quarterback, and a hard-hitting defence - no obvious weak points for the Steelers, and Jerome Bettis is clearly the romantic story for the weekend.

On the other hand, the NFC championship game was the first time I've seen the Seahawks this year, and I was mightily impressed. Outstanding running back, unflappable and wily quarterback, a clutch of top receivers and an offensive line to die for - while the defence is mobile and adaptable.

I'm going against my previous opinion that the AFC would win no matter what, and predict the Seahawks to come from behind to squeak a thriller late on.

Six Nations 2006 : Round 1

At the risk of mortally offending the Italians and the Scots, there's only one truly competitive match this weekend, and that's England against Wales at Twickenham.

Last season's champions are wracked by injuries, and with England showing some promising signs of semi-recovery during the Autumn, this should be a comfortable victory for the home team. However, I suspect that despite having about 70% of possession, England's backs will somehow conspire to make it look difficult.

Prediction : England by 9.

Key man : Lewis Moody, Has only played 40 minutes of rugby in the last two months, will be targeted by the Welsh, and I still think he's suspect as an international open-side - he's a natural number six for me. If he can keep the ball away from dangerous linkman Martyn Williams, it'll make England's job much easier. If he loses his discipline, Big Lol may make his comeback earlier than expected.