Saturday, 21 November 2009

Staying

It's been a fairly eventful week in football, what with the Irish failing to qualify for the world cup and England enjoying a harrowing experience against the fairly decent Brazilian outfit who look likely to contest the final of the world cup. To hit the Irish situation first, it's simple, if they were serious about qualifying they should have won their group. Going into the play-off is a lottery, at best a 50-50 chance of going through, as shown by Russia. Ireland's horribly inept finishing cost them in the end, it would have only taken another goal to shut the game down. Only being a goal ahead after a handful of missed chances and the script is pretty much written. Things like handballs and dodgy decisions happen every week for every team and Ireland are no different. France themselves would have a massive case to feel (rightly) aggrieved if the result had gone the other way, a clear trip by Given on Anelka would surely have led to a penalty and potentially a red card for the Irish keeper. Either way in their present states I don't believe Ireland or France would be troubling the later stages of the tournament and honestly Bosnia look to be a far superior outfit to Ireland who still look to play in the hoof-ball style that time forgot.

After seeing the story this morning that Ben Foster, England goalkeeper and occasional Manchester United bench warmer, will not be leaving his club. Now this seems a fairly normal statement but after a quick look at Wikipedia it seems like madness for the player. Paul Robinson, currently on the England scrapheap has played 180 league games for his clubs since 2004. Foster 138 since 2000. Based on that there is little wonder that he has hardly developed and is continually called out for his poor decision making, he has next to no experience of high pressure games, only 11 league games for United, whereas Robinson who is a regarded as a lesser keeper by some has the experience of relegation battles with Leeds and Blackburn. Robinson would be my England keeper for the world cup but of course he has hardly featured for his country since his catastrophic mistake against Croatia and since can't really be expected to feature. Foster on the other hand is likely to be one of three keepers taken and looks the favourite to start between the sticks in spite of his lack of games for United, unless Van Der Sar is injured (again) during the season. Strangely 'keepers and only Foster (see David James situation) seem the exception to the England manager's golden rule that players must be playing every week for their clubs. Either way, should it matter? England are near enough guaranteed a slot and defeat in the semi-finals, of course Portugal are involved again so another shoot out could be in the offing.

A final word on Brazil, the should be the excellent Brazil in fact. The excellent, wasteful, quick, skilful, imaginative and intrinsically watchable Brazil could well take home the trophy. They battered England, they controlled the game and England had no unmissable chances and no time on the ball, two things that England really struggle to contend with again good sides. Brazil look likely to miss a fair few chances in every game. For instance penalties but that can sorted out. Brazil have only a short way to go to be the best team in the world, while England have further to go, a long way further to go.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Distribution

Why am I music pirate? Why is anyone?

This is the obvious question I find myself trying to answer. You can look at it from a bundle of angles. It's easy, it's free and it's quick. The first one I think is the main cause for me, it's easy to steal something and throw in the last point and it's suddenly a pretty one sided fight. In the world of paying £10 or even above for a physical release of an album piracy will always have it's place.

Recently however I've found myself taking a tangent, mainly due to the wonders of independent distribution. Really it seems if a band want to get heard they need to get their product out there in the marketplace in as many forms as is possible but if they want to get paid it needs to be cheap enough to make tracking down an illegal source a less than worthwhile path to pursue. For indie bands I've found the best form of distribution is a stream it and buy it site. For instance Amie Street is a pretty solid site offering a decent array of non-mainstream music along with some better known artists. Considering you can pick up albums for a few dollars (with a fairly healthy exchange rate from the pound) this can be for a mere couple of pounds. Taking another line of distribution is Ten Tracks, where like the name, they offer ten tracks by various artists for a pound. This is a pretty tidy deal and I first became aware of the site when one of my favourite bands was featured on a compilation, since then I've regularly checked out what's on offer and really enjoyed some music I would never have otherwise have heard. At the end of the day piracy isn't going to stop and it seems as though slowing it down is a sledgehammer to a nut operation but the first step is price. Distribution at reasonable prices will attract more sales and more happy customers. And more happy customers means more sales. And maybe then in our utopian musical society we'll all be happy.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Replacement

After buggering my old mp3 playing device I think I spent close to a week bothering various review sites and pondering almost any available brand. For a brief while I was considering taking an Apple based iPod route, how-bloody-ever after reading countless reviews it seemed my potential target, an iPod nano, sounded a little like a toddler trapped in a dustbin. A fairly inaccurate simile I think you'll find but in short it's just not meant to sound that great. Coming from my faithful Zen and other Creative devices I've got used to a fair level of sound quality, okay it's only mp3 with their inherently limited sound quality but the Creative players have always sounded great. After a bit more of a snoop around and chiefly due to the excellent AnythingButIpod.com I looked at SanDisk's line of products and found the Sansa Clip to be highly regarded pretty much everywhere. The only stumbling block for this player comes from the limited memory capacity where 8gig is really not enough for me. I found there was also a Clip+ fresh on the block, the same size and shape with a few tweaks like a micro SD card slot. On it's own micro SD doesn't sound that big a deal but with a new micro SDHC format being produced with up to 32gig cards available it looked like the a great choice, with a player plus a 32gig card giving up to 40gig for closer to £100 than any other player. Roll on twenty minutes and I'd discovered another option, the Sansa Fuze, to cut a long story short, close to the same as the Clip+ but with a bigger battery and pick-up in-store price of £60 at PC World (not where I'd choose to buy anything but it was the cheapest price going) I was happy to put my faith in the glowing praise lumped upon it in many reviews.

Now would be a pretty good time to do a review of my now decommissioned player, the Zen. For £100 in September of 2008 the Zen was a true bargain with a generous 16gig of memory, decent battery life and a fairly resilient exterior. The sound quality is very pleasing and certainly a step above anything I'd had before, I'd say the sound is on par if not better than the Fuze but the difference is hardly noticeable. If I'm going to give it a score it hits a very safe eight of ten. This is in the main due to one feature which the player boasts but really doesn't work, this is the SD card slot. Yes it works and you can play files from the card but they do NOT integrate into the plays library, this is hugely frustrating as the incredibly low price of SDHC cards means that this could be turned into a bargain 16+32gig play which is pretty impressive, even by adding just an extra 8gig of storage (less than £10) gives a very respectably capacious music player. If this feature did work as it should this player would be getting as close to full marks as is possible. Durability is nothing to worry about as really whatever broke the screen on mine looks like a fairly substantial bit of contact.

The Fuze so far has lived up to expectations in all departments, it's a little smaller and the controls are good and work well alongside the interface which is very similar to that of the Zen, which is no bad thing. The light today is terrible and it doesn't look like it'll stop raining so the picture at the top is the current best available of Broke and Not So.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

D vs G

Going to drop this in quickly this morning. After watching the first heavyweight fight I've ever felt motivated to watch and after seeing David Haye take the whatever-it's-called belt I feel pretty sorry for the big lad he defeated. To be fair to Valuev he really doesn't look much like a boxer and more of a fridge-freezer and throughout he was made to look his age and his weight, a few flashes of his fairly brutal strength came through but a couple of openings went begging and Haye had more than enough in the tank to launch a few attacks in the last round. On the whole it was fairly disappointing really, two blokes who really can hurt each, other going at it but throughout over half an hour there were only a few really telling blows landed. There's likely to be a similar amount of blows landing in the United Chelsea showdown, where like last night the winner is more than likely to be from London, England.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Broke

Two things broke today, the screen on my mp3 player and Pompey's home form. One good, one bloody bad. After a quick search on google it doesn't look likely that a repair job is all that possible for the screen, this leaves me in the terrible position of potentially having to buy something I already own, albeit in working form or some kind of iPod based replacement. Pompey on the other hand; super and something to really build on, it's not very often the bottom club in the league tonks reasonable opponents to such a degree.