Martin Jol at Spurs

Football No Comments »

The next Spurs trip is planned, and currently we have a bus of 14 travelling up to the lane to watch the home fixture vs. Blackburn on the 27th October. With the current goings on a Tottenham I am not looking forward the match as I have done in the past, and our start to the season does not fill me full of confidence in getting a result.

The last trip was to Derby at home, where two early Steed Malbranque goals set up a thrilling 4-0 win, the biggest win I had seen at the Lane. The trip acted as a pilot run, as we have a plan to make the trip to the Lane several times this season. As it turns out the minibus was easily booked and costs were kept low between the ten of us that travelled that day.

On the trip to watch Spurs vs. Derby we had planned to stay in a bed and breakfast in North London so there was no rush back and we could make a complete day of it. We used
Trusted Places to look up a suitable bed and breakfast in North London so that we didn’t have the hassle of finding one once we had arrived in the capital. Having only ever stayed with relatives, I was unfamiliar with places that a group of us would be able to stay but through Trusted Places this was soon rectified.

After the success of this trip we were eager to plan another, and after booking the tickets as soon as the club released them on general sale, we hear less than a week later that Mr Jol may not even be in charge for the fixture. Lately there have been a string of managers linked with his position at Tottenham, Ramos, Lippi and most recently Jose himself. As a Spurs fan I think the back door grooming of managers by the club that has been going on lately is unfair on Mr Jol.

People forget he has delivered two fifth place finishes in two seasons, unprecedented for Tottenham in the premier league. Now that we get somewhere near the right track we want to replace him from as early as the second game of the season. People forget the run of fixtures we opened with and the fact we started the season with £100 million of talent on the injury table.

All I can say is that I hope Martin Jol is in charge for our next trip, giving him a proper chance to turn the clubs season around. After all I love Martin Jol, Martin Jol loves me. :)

UK Gambling Industry

Gaming No Comments »

With the increasing number of homes with broadband access there has been a stark shift in the amount of online gaming sites available this new audience. But over the last decade has the increase in online gambling sites had a direct effect on volume of people gambling within the UK? The answer, apparently not.

A study by the Gambling Commission was published this week that concluded that since 1999, the number of people gambling has not increased. The report goes even further to claim that if lottery sales were included the number of people who gamble on a regular basis has actually fallen from 72% to 68%.

The report concluded that 68% of the population, that is about 32 million adults had gambled in the last year. The most popular forms of gambling in terms of number were The National Lottery (57%) Scratchcards (20%) Hourse Racing (17%) and Slot Machines (24%).

These figures are very refreshing in terms of the number of people who are regularly gambling, but I would like to see how this study looks when compared with how much money people are spenting. The UK gambling industry now is now a £42bn industry, so although not as many people are gambling, they are certainly spending more.

The report concluded positive news for the UK, and the figures have not shown as big a shift to online gambling as one would have expected. Out of those surveyed only 6% of people used the internet to gamble, 3% accounting for online poker and bets with an online bookmarker.

Although relatively small, the report does however reflect a changing culture when it come to gambling. People are beginning to bet online, but although there is over 3.5million people who now regularly gamble online, a six fold increase in five years, this still remains a small percentage of overall UK gambling figures. In my opinion this simply demonstrates how deeply gambling is engrained within everyday British culture.

I look forward to seeing the next report planned for 2009-2010, and how the UK gambling industry will inevitably change after the enactment of the 2005 Gambling Act.

WordPress Plugins

The Interwebs 2 Comments »

There are a number of plugins available for WordPress blogs with more continually being developed to help bloggers get exactly what they want out of their blog. Lately I have been experimenting with popular plugins and am interested in getting any feedback from others who may have stumbled upon useful add-ons themselves.

When it comes to blogging with WordPress, perhaps the most important issue for serious bloggers is the SEO of your blog, and subsiquently there are a range of plugins that can help. For those who may not be aware, the default install of WordPress includes no robots information. This essentially means as well as the desired post pages, your blog achieve (as well as other things) can be indexed effectively duplicating the content of each post.

As well as this, and something I was not overly clear on at first, is that without any robots exclusion rules each post can also be duplicated with within each category that the post is tagged too. For example a post about a new IPod could correctly be tagged under the relevant categories Music, Technology and the Internet, but this provides three duplicate pages of identical content, one within each category as well as the original post page.

Such duplicate content issues are exactly why SEO should be the first port of call for anybody who eventually wishes to monetise their blog, or desires optimal search performance. To combat these issues I used a selection of plugins as well as some of my own graft.

Initially I put my own robots.txt file in place to combat the indexing of both archives and category listings. I have now altered it to be specific to Google and use a range of page specific meta robot tags through the All in One SEO plugin mentioned later. There is also the KB robots.txt plugin available for robots control but has limitation depending upon the directory your blog in placed in.

One of the preinstalled options I altered was the permalink URL structure that is in place by default. I changed these from dynamic URLs to a format that is easier to hack, yet more optimal for search. Another good SEO plugins I used was the SEO title tag that optimises the title of blog posts. In addition to having this I also used the head meta description plugin that dynamically generates a unique meta description for each page of your blog. This replaces the one single meta tag that is used as default across an entire WordPress blog upon installation.

These plugins are all great at doing there individual jobs, but if you would prefer one plugin to do all of this through one manageable interface then the All in One SEO pack is the plugin for you.

Social bookmarking tools also account for a range of different plugins available for WordPress blogs. In the past I have, and still use the Chicklet Creator plugin that allows the blogger to easily choose which social bookmarking sights they wish to make easily accessible on their blog. With a nice admin interface, the selected bookmarking sites are then displayed via an icon on your blog.

I have also included Digg and Del.icio.us links on individual post pages so that the content within each post can be spread across the blogosphere. :)

Lastly there is a nice popularity contest plugin that I have used that helps me to keep track of which posts are most popular amongst readers. I am currently looking for a nice keyword cloud and top blog plugin if anybody can recommend one.

PCC Mobile Valet

Finance 3 Comments »

Keeping a car tidy can be a real challenge. There is no greater frustration than investing in a new car and seeing general wear and tear lead to a significant drop in the resale value. With the very nature of the motor industry the price deflation of a purchased car is expected, but I recently heard of a service that can help reduce this to an acceptable level.

A close friend tried a mobile valet service recently on his new VW Golf GTI and was extremely impressed with the service they provided. Although his vehicle was by no means in desparate need of attention, it was typical of a small family and as such had been neglected since its purchase. There were a few stains on the back seat and the time for a thorough wash and wax had passed.

A quick call to the PCC boys resulted in the scheduling of an appointment time convenient with him, and the subsequent arrival a smart mobile valet van with a selection of valet options on offer.

This mobile valet was a service I hadn’t previously heard of. The idea of bringing a valet to the car owner seemed a fairly simply one, yet was the grounding of a service I didn’t realise even existed. It seemed logical that those who didn’t have the time or energy to clean their own car would benefit greatly from it.

The valets on offer started at an Express valet which entailed a wash, wax, wheel clean and leather dry, to a Premier Plus valet which included services such as an upholstery and carpet shampoo and Roof lining clean.

Very good service at very competitive prices, and would recommend them to anybody who doesn’t find time to pay that extra bit of TLC to their car.

Kanye vs Fiddy

Music 2 Comments »

After a hectic week in the Hip-Hop world, I am pleased to read that the album Graduation by Kanye West, this week outsold 50 Cent to debut at number one in the album charts. It seems in the run up to the release of each album everybody has had something to say about the head to head, with 50 Cent even stating that if out sold, he would no longer perform as a solo artist. On reason the outcome pleased me so much. :)

Estimates based on sales as early as Wednesday stated that Kanye was outselling his competitor by over 150k copies. There has been a long running feud between the two artists for some time, and this joint album release date has simply thrown any past differences of opinion into the media spotlight

It is a long standing tradition in Hip-Hop that rappers have antagonistic beefs with other artists. The east coast west coast divide has been labelled as a reason for some famous Hip-Hop rivalries in the past, for instance Biggie and TuPac, but that fact is these rivalries are more fabricated to generate record sales than they are based on real life differences.

Used as a promotional tool, the same day release of ‘beefing’ artists is a great way to send loyal fans more promptly to the shelves, and undoubtedly the main winner is not the artist with his self proclaimed bragging rights, but the record labels behind each artist. One thing is for sure, the increased media coverage generated by feuding artists certainly hasn’t slowed record sales for either artist in the past.

The silver lining in the hype generated by the launch of these albums this week, is that Hip-Hop as a genre has been thrust into the limelight, and that can only have a positive impact for fans of the genre.

As a fan of Kanye I was glad to see him have a top selling album, however I’m afraid I didn’t buy into the beef and go running to the shop to buy his album. For those of you interested in what’s up next? A joint release date in November for albums from both Mary J Blige and Mariah Carey. No thanks ta!

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