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Monday, February 28, 2011

AFC Bournemouth - Made in Dagenham (and Redbridge)

Last weekend saw The Cherries unbeaten run continue, as they won against relegation zone team Dagenham and Redbridge.

On paper, it should have been a simple task of keeping them at bay, but at the half-way point, the score was 1-1 and 3 points were dwindling away.  However, a late goal by Anton Robinson, saw The Cherries snatch victory, and keep their automatic promotion hopes alive.

They are currently one point off the leaders, Brighton.

The season remains exciting, but there are some very important matches coming up... who am I kidding? They're all important.

Next weekend they host Oldham Athletic, who have just confirmed that they have not paid their players wages for February.  That's followed by a trip to Exeter, then what can only be described as the 'local' derby, as Southampton come to town!

The full match report for last weekend is available here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review - PingChat

The astute amongst you may have noticed and editorial error yesterday, as I accidentally published an article.  This is the post I meant to publish, and yesterdays, should have followed it!!

With me so far?  Thought not!!  Enjoy anyway....

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) has made headlines recently, as it has become one of the most popular instant message applications for mobile phones.  Indeed, it's one of the reasons that RIM (the developers of BlackBerry) have had such a good time of late - and outstripped sales of the iPhone in the last quarter of 2010!!

However, BBM is only good for chatting BlackBerry to BlackBerry.  What if your friends, family and colleagues are using different phones.  The iPhone is prolific and Android is making huge headway into the market.

There are cross-platform (as it's known) applications that allow you to do just this; one of which is WhatsApp, and the other is a relative newcomer - PingChat.

PingChat is simple to setup, and it will search your address book, as well as Facebook and Twitter (if you let it) to find other PingChat users.  They will automatically be invited to become 'buddies'.

The system allows you to chat realtime, send photos, voice notes and video.  It's a simple interface, and it also allows you to have a group chat, with multiple contacts at once.  The only downside to this; on the BlackBerry, is that you need to know their PingChat ID.  This is silly; surely I should be able to select from my list of contacts.  Hopefully, that will change.

It's not quite there with BBM.  You can't add smiley faces, and the voice notes need to be pre-recorded; they can't be recorded in the app - another missing feature.

All in all - whilst they are making great strides, and without a doubt will continue to grow; for me PingChat doesn't fulfil my needs as an instant messenger.  I must stress, that this is on the BlackBerry.

I have looked at the iPhone / iPod app on the iPod Touch.  That doesn't have voice notes, but you can send pictures.  You can also send a map with your current location.  That could be useful.  Unfortuately, that functionality doesn't exist on the BlackBerry, so I couldn't open the map!!

And there is the crux of the problem.  Whilst basic chat is cross-platform; if you want to do more; there's still a way to go.  But, don't ignore it completely; the basics are good, and when they tidy up around the edges, then this will definitely be an app to have.

Do you use cross-platform instant message applications?  Which one is your favourite?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review - BlackBerry Messenger

UPDATED POST FROM LAST APRIL....................

As you know, I love my BlackBerry.

A feature which I use a lot is the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).
It's instant messaging between BlackBerry users.  Whilst I wrote about it yesterday, as part of another review; I thought it deserved some space all to itself!

This video was made to 'honour' BBM. Make sure your speakers are turned on.

One of the reasons it's great is because it saves on text messages (unless they're unlimited, in which case it makes no difference).
However, you also have the ability to see that your message has been delivered, and then read.
If they've been read, I can see if my respondent is ignoring me!!

Another plus, over text messaging, is the ability to send and receive files; pictures, videos, small audio files, voicenotes can be sent directly to your BBM contacts.  This is one aspect of the service that makes it indispensable.

You can also 'broadcast' messages to all (or a select few) of your contacts.  This is ideal for getting the same message to everyone quickly.  It's more aimed at businesses, who can use this facility to get important business information to staff outside the office.

One downside, if it really is a downside, is that BBM only works between BlackBerry devices.  It's not possible to 'cross' into MSN, Yahoo, Google Talk etc.  For them, you would need to use a standard instant messenger application.

With the latest version of BBM (Version 5), you can use the camera on your phone to scan the barcode of a contact, to quickly add them to your list of contacts.

To do this, open your Messenger and go to 'Invite Contacts'.
If you have version 5, there will be an option to 'Scan a persons barcode'.
Select this, then click 'Continue'

Your camera will be activated and when you 'point' it at the barcode, whether on a computer screen or the phone, the barcode will be automatically read.
You can then decide to accept or decline the invitation.

Simple. Free and highly sociable...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review - Poynt for BlackBerry

It's fair to say, this is a re-print (if that's the right word!)  I last reviewed Poynt just over a year ago; and since then there have been some updates and amendments, which I think make it worth re-reviewing.
Not least, the fact that Poynt is now also available for Android, Windows 7 and iPhone.

This review focuses on the BlackBerry app - which was the first; and is very deeply integrated into the operating system of the phone.

Do you remember when your mum told you it's rude to point. 
Well, now, in the world of BlackBerry, it's rude NOT to Poynt (geddit?)

Poynt describes itself as a free, all-in-one local search application for the BlackBerry.

Now, I must admit I was slightly sceptical about this, as some of these types of applications are best suited to use in North America.
However, I was very pleasantly surprised.

So - how does Poynt work?  When you first start the application, it uses your cell-site location to identify where you are.  It's also possible to configure this to use GPS, but that's not too useful if you're indoors!!

Now optimised to make use of the touchscreen functionality of the Torch, you can 'spin' the icons in the centre of the screen to get to the module you want to use.

We'll go through these now:

Map It! - Click on here and the Map My Search Location option appears.  Click on this, and a map will be displayed, showing you where you are!! It is possible to configure which map to use; BlackBerry maps or, if you have it, Google Maps.  This is ideal if you're visiting an area, and need a map...
With Google Maps, you also get turn-by-turn directions.

Spin the wheel until you get to Restaurants.  Here are three options.
Restaurants Near Me
Restaurants By Name
Restaurants By Cuisine

Again, this is useful if you don't know what's available in the area, but fancy some fish and chips, a curry or a posh Italian restaurant.
Find the one you're interested in and expand the menu.  You can now call the restaurant, add it your your contacts, map it or even send it via email.

Some restaurants are signed up to Opentable, a central reservation system for eateries.  This means that, for some places, once you've read the reviews, you can book a table, right from with Poynt.

Next stop - Businesses
Need a plumber?  Running low on fuel?
Enter Petrol Station into the search field, and a list of local stations will be displayed, in distance order.  Click on a business and you can then get to the map, showing where the business is.

Finally - Movies
For me, this is the best part.  There are a number of options available, which I won't go into now. 
The main ones are Movies Near Me and Theaters (yes it is American) Near Me.
Again, based on your location, click on this and a list of all the cinemas are displayed.
Click on your chosen venue and at the top is the Movies Playing option.  This displays all current films, with the times.
Click on a film of your choice, and you can get reviews, information and even download a trailer.
At certain cinemas, it's now also possible to book your tickets - although it's not a widely available facility; and one which will make this app invaluable when it is.

Overall, this is a particularly smart application.  What's more, it's available free (yes FREE!!) from BlackBerry App World.

I can't possibly do it justice here; but hopefully my enthusiasm for this has come through.

If you have a BlackBerry, but don't have this - then it really is worth Poynting yourself in their direction.  You have nothing to lose...

Have you used Poynt?  What do you think?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review - BlackBerry Travel app v TripIt

There are many great apps for the BlackBerry, and one I started using not long ago is TripIt.  A travel app that manages your plans and keeps them in one place.

The basic app is free, and does an admirable job; it will even search for travel related emails and create itineraries for you automatically.  Great for train journeys, flights and hotels; not so clever for big itineraries.  However, they're always working at improving the logarithms, so who know; maybe it'll get better over time.  One major advantage is that TripIt is also available on the web.

This week, BlackBerry released their own version of a travel app, in conjunction with Worldmate.  Now, I have to say, the integration with the core BlackBerry operating system is sublime.  It just fits, and works beautifully.  I have just one, quite major complaint.  It is very, very, light on functionality.

Where TripIt will cater for journeys, days out, theatre bookings and the like; the BlackBerry app is only suitable for hotels and flights.  Maybe that's what the typical BlackBerry user wants; but I'm willing to bet that since the market for the smartphone has increased, it won't be enough.

The app is only in beta stage; which means it hasn't been released publicly, and is in the final throes of user testing.  However,  unless more functionality is added, then it won't be a threat to TripIt.

If you've read other posts of mine, you'll know I'm a BlackBerry fan, and I jumped at the chance to give this a tryout.  Unfortunately, it doesnt cut the mustard, and whilst I'm not a frequent flyer (but use the train daily) I can't see this being adopted by the masses.

Of course, I'll keep my eyes open, and should more be added, then I will definitely give it another go.

For now, I will be staying with TripIt.

Do you have a favourite travel app for your smartphone?  Would you like to review it on My Blog and I?

Monday, February 14, 2011

AFC Bournemouth - Saddle Up For More Excitement

Another cracking weekend from The Cherries.

A trip to Walsall and another superb performance by the boys.  Michael Symes has kept the promotion dream alive, with a 1-0 win.  The Saddlers kept the pressure on, but failed to get on the score chart this week.

Cherries manager Lee Bradbury told Radio Solent

"It was a good goal, well worked and we'll take that.  The resilience we showed was brilliant and if we can do that week in week out our quality will show through in the end.  Shwan Jalal's been on fire for us - making great saves and he deserves his player of the month award."
As for the next game; that's another away trip, this time to Bristol Rovers, tomorrow night.
Fingers crossed everyone...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Formula 1 - Cars Unveiled

Over the last few weeks, most of the teams have revealed their new cars; each in the hope that it's an improvement on last year, and it will carry their drivers (and the team) to Championship glory.

Each team has tried to find something different, that will give them the extra power and downforce needed to keep the car on the track, and ahead of the field.  There have even been some changes to the technical specifications.

This year sees the re-introduction of KERS (Kinetic Energy Replacement System) a system that uses the energy from braking and using it to provide an additional power boost.  Last seen in the 2009/10 season, it was only used by a few teams, and last year was banned.  However, all the teams are using it this year, and it's the kind of technical advance that could have a very real benefit in the road cars of tomorrow.

Is this the dream team for 2011?
The F-duct; pioneered by McLaren last year, has been banned; instead the teams are using a flexible rear wing; to help introduce more over-taking.  Since the turbulence of the the lead car, causes the car behind to lose grip; this change will help the chasing driver get closer and, hopefully overtake.  There is an argument that says this isn't the drivers racing, but the car doing the work; on the other hand, it should make for a better show.

Each of the above is governed by rules about when they can be used, and policing them will be important.  No doubt the teams will be watching each other very carefully.

The next round of testing takes place this week, and it will be the first time McLaren have put the new car to the test.

I have lots of fingers crossed that it compares well to the other teams, and we have a great season to look forward to.
As a footnote; the accident the befell Robert Kubica (Renault) looks like he'll be out for this season.  After major surgery to repair an almost severed hand, I will be very surprised if he makes it back behind the wheel of a Formula One car this year.  Of course, I hope he does; but the boss at Renault has hinted that they are looking for a permanent replacement this season.  

Monday, February 07, 2011

AFC Bournemouth - The Cherries March On

Oh wow! Unbeaten yet again; and although the game on Saturday resulted in a draw, it means the team are just 3 points behind the leaders.

Michael Symes gave The Cherries the lead before the break; however, Leyton Orient managed to equalise in the dying moments of the game.

With 50 points, the season is still going well.  Although it can't be ignored that the leaders, and some of the teams below still have games in hand, so the boys can't relax for one single match.

Speaking of which, their next encounter is next Saturday, away to 22 placed Walsall.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Review - HulloMail

It's review time once again, and this time it's for an app that can be found across the various mobile platforms; Apple, BlackBerry, Android and 'others'.

HulloMail is a voicemail service with a difference.  All the usual services apply; you can record your own greeting, for instance.  However, the beauty is in the delivery.  There are a number of options.

1. Standard notification, via a HulloMail icon, that there is a message waiting
2. Notification by email, with a link to play the message
3. Listen to your message on the HulloMail website

The main selling point is the fact you can 'see' who has left you a message, without listening to the pre-amble of the mobile operators.  You know the thing - "You have 3 new messages... first new message... message left yesterday at 3:01pm..."

With HulloMail, the visual display will show the name (if the caller is in your contact list), a picture (if associated in your contact list) and the date and time.  You can then choose which message to listen to, in whatever order you like.

Another big benefit is the ability to send HulloMail messages to anybody in your contact list.  So long as they have an email address, they will receive a voice message from you.  It's a great way to say something, that might be difficult to put in words; and as you can add meaning with the tone of your voice, there is less chance of mis-understanding an ambiguous message.

As I mentioned at the beginning, HulloMail is available on all mobile phone platforms, and you can either sync the contact list with your phone, or, if you have one, your Google account.

I've been 'playing' with the system for the last couple of days, and I'm impressed.  Especially as the message retrieval (from your phone) is via a standard landline number, so it comes from any inclusive call time; unlike others which charge to listen to voicemail.  If you have a data plan, you could use that too.

Once you've listened to a voicemail message, you can reply either via a Hullo, a text message or an email.  The on-screen menu makes it easy to do.

HulloMail is available to UK, Ireland, Canada and USA mobile users; however there are some caveats, so check first.

All in all, this is an impressive service.  There are two versions (as per the norm these days!) The free version is ad-supported (although on the BlackBerry there are no adverts!)  On the iPhone version (which I've installed on my iPad) there are small ads.  For the annual sum of £3.99, you can get rid of them.  Personally, I wouldn't bother; although the folk at HulloMail do suggest that paid apps get new functionality first!!

If you prefer to 'see' who has left you a voicemail, before you dial the operator and listen to the whole rambling; then this is the service for you.

Definitely a 5 out of 5 application.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Logo Game

Board games can be a lot of fun, and I remember many wet, winter, afternoons, when I was growing up, when my family and I would play games like Cluedo, Scrabble and Monopoly.

Now, with a young family of my own, we have started playing games; all of the above, and others besides.  Disney Trivial Pursuit is a favourite and recently we got The Logo Game.

Described by the manufacturer thus:
The Logo Board Game of things you know and love. For 2-6 players aged 12 to Adult. Our life is full of things. From chocolate to cereal, football to flowers--and they all have logos. The Logo board game is all about those logos and the things wrapped up in them. It taps into the knowledge we've piled up over our lives and adds a few astonishing facts and surprises to entertain the whole family. It's easy to learn and fun to play. Just answer the questions to leap around the board. The first player to answer correctly in the winning zone wins.

It's a fun game, and it's quite incredible the amount of information we take in, subliminally.  Admittedly, some of the questions are a little difficult for younger players; but its fun discussing the pictures and questions.

If you fancy a good evening with friends, a take-away and a bottle of wine; add this to your list and have a great night.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Re:Kindle Your Reading Habit

You must have gathered by now that I love to read.  Mostly books.  In fact, here's a post I wrote some time ago; just to set the scene.

However, since last June, when I acquired my iPad, I haven't picked a book up.  I have been converted to the Amazon Kindle.  To be more precise, the Kindle app.

That isn't to say I won't read a physical book; there's still something about the printed page that I love; it's just that the Kindle is so convenient.

I thought I'd list the books I currently carry around with me, and why.  So as not to favour one over the other, I've listed them in alphabetical order, by author.
  • The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams; just love this book
  • First Thrills - Lee Child; this is a book of short stories, collated by Child, from upcoming thriller writers
  • Agile Estimating and Planning - Mike Cohn; not light reading, but great if you work in an Agile development world
  • Succeeding With Agile - Mike Cohn
  • User Stories Applied - Mike Cohn
  • Kill & Cure - Stephen Davidson; not read it yet, but looks good
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Confession - John Grisham; recently finished reading; and not bad at all
  • The Basement - Stephen Leather
  • Hard Landing - Stephen Leather
  • Once Bitten - Stephen Leather - all his books were less than 80p; too good too miss at that price!
  • The Leopard - Jo Nesbo; I've read all his others, and just started this latest one
  • Business Analysis Techniques - Debra Paul; another business book
So, there you go; a peak into my reading habits.  Some are light-hearted, others, dark and twisted; mixed in with the reference books.

Do you have a Kindle (or other electronic book)?  What's on yours?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

AFC Bournemouth - Management Moves

Great news; Lee Bradbury and assistant Steve Fletcher have been given two and half year contracts to manager Bournemouth; following the departure of Eddie Howe in January.

Bradbury has overseen three games since Howe left, and has managed a clean sheet; even over-seeing a win against league leaders,  Brighton.

With a Nil/Nil draw against Rochdale, followed by a home win against leaders Brighton; and this weekend a victory away to Plymouth, The Cherries are really on a roll at the moment.

Tonight they're hosting Swindow, so I hope their winning streak continues.

Steve Fletcher, the 38-year old veteran of the club, will also continue playing for the club.

It's an exciting time; they're in a strong position to challenge for promotion, and I hope that Lee Bradbury and Steve Fletcher do their best to maintain the momentum.


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