Monthly Archives: June 2010

World Cup Fever

I grew up in a small town with a smaller public school system.

In this small public school district, the only time soccer was offered as a sport was during a summer months league.  The programs were largely put on by volunteer coaches/refs and organizations like the Jaycees printed team uniforms.  I took part in this summer soccer league for 2 or 3 summers during my elementary grade-school years.  I never had much interest in it though; as I wanted to spend the precious summer vacation months riding my bike, playing nintendo with my brother, and watching TV and cartoons.  Really I only participated in soccer because my parents took me, my dad volunteer coached our teams, and many of my friends played.

I soon outgrew the summer soccer league, and my minimal interest in the sport faded until it was a complete and total lack thereof.  I didn’t follow the sport, I didn’t find any interest in it whatsoever, even when a more organized school sponsored team formed during my late high school years.

Fast forward more than a decade – and I have World Cup fever.

Before this World Cup started, I couldn’t have named a single soccer player aside from David Beckham.  Still, for reasons that I simply cannot understand or communicate, I’ve made a strong effort to watch as much soccer as possible in these early stages of the tournament.  It started perhaps with the much-hyped USA vs England round 1 match, but it’s since morphed into near addiction.  Following the USA alone has been thrilling and entertaining.  They’ve had very dramatic games with tight scoring, referee controversy, and topped that off with a sensational last minute victory over Algeria to win their group and advance.  Even with the US since being eliminated by Ghana, they’ve certainly made me a fan.

I have been trying to decide the pros and cons of this sport, maybe searching to answers for why I’m all the sudden so into it and eager to jump on the bandwagon.  So this is the best I can come up with:

What I like about Soccer:

  • No stoppage of play.  The clock keeps ticking no matter what.  Any lost time for injuries or substitutions is added on at the end of the match per referee discretion.  Compare that to the NBA where the last 2 minutes of a game take nearly as long as the previous 3 periods combined.  Whistles, timeouts, fouls, etc.  Soccer maintains a much quicker flow and consistent tempo because of this and I am glad it works that way.
  • Yellow/Red cards.  Seeing somebody get kicked out for a red card is purely entertaining.  I also enjoy the fact that a red-carded player results in the team playing a man down for the remainder of the match.
  • The teamwork.  Soccer is similar in strategy to hockey.  The length of the field and gameplay result in a lot of ball movement, passing, and formations.  This makes it impossible to have a “Ball hog” type player a-la Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.  One player can’t make the team, and I like that.
  • Substitutions.  I don’t know how other leagues do it, but international rules of the Worldcup only allow for 3 substitutions per match.  This adds to the dynamic of the game, and speaks volumes to the conditioning of the athletes.

What I don’t like about Soccer:

  • Dives.  It seems like players continuously take dives at the slightest hint of any contact in an effort to draw penalties.  They do this more than in any other sport I have ever seen.  A slight tap to the calf muscle may result in the player writhing in pain as though his leg was just blown off by a frag grenade.  It’s just completely ridiculous.  But the public makes the most if it with hilarious hilight compilations scattered throughout the web.
  • Vuvuzelas.  I can understand blowing an effing Vuvuzela when something happens in the game…  When a goal is scored, a foul, or a great play.  But when fans just blow them continuously and constantly it makes no sense to me whatsoever.  It’s almost like the fans are bored with soccer and have to do something to occupy themselves.  The sound is annoying, distracting, and is seriously almost unbearable to cope with.  It sounds like a swarm of steroid pumping insects that can devour anything in their paths.   They’re terrible.

With all of that detailed near-amateur analysis, the bottom line is that I’ve enjoyed this year’s World Cup tournament quite alot.  I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of it play out.  And I just may be a converted soccer fan.

Protecting My Mobile Phone

This week I heard about F-Secure’s Anti-Theft for Mobile product being released for free.  It’s available for Android, Symbian, and Windows Mobile platforms. Unfortunately they do not currently have a version available for Blackberries.

The video below shows off some of the main features which I found to be pretty slick.  The premise of being able to locate your lost/stolen phone, protect your personal information, and to have a bit of a jump on a would-be thief is something I instantly craved for my Blackberry.  I use my Blackberry for work, so it has the potential to have confidential information as well as alot of personal contacts/pictures/information that would be accessible.  Not to mention the access to my Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.  After seeing this video, I went on a quest for finding something similar on the Blackberry.

I started doing some typical online research and reading reviews at various Blackberry websites; and I’ve found that there are several different offerings.  The main and most popular seem to be RobLock, WaveSecure, and SmrtGuard.  Of these three, SmrtGuard had by far the best review/ratings score on Blackberry Appworld.  Not to mention, it was free compared to the others requiring a paid annual subscription.  With some negative reviews regarding the support and stability of the other two; I quickly made my decision on trying out SmrtGuard.

It’s awesome.  Plain and simple.

The impressive list of features in the free version include:

  • Remote locking
  • Remote data wipe
  • Remote listening
  • Tracking/locating via GPS
  • Email/SMS notifcation of SIM card change

Here’s a screenshot of the web dashboard for my phone.  You can see the map where I’ve played with the tracking and following.

SmrtGuard Dashboard

It’s fairly comforting to know that if my phone does ever get lost or stolen, I have a few options and things I can try to recover it.  Part of me even WANTS it to happen…  To have an upper hand on a would-be thief, setting off audio alarms, reporting his new SIM card information to authorities/cell companies, using remote listen to spy on him… etc etc etc.  The list goes on and on.

I’ve been using the app a few days now, and I’ve really found it to be pretty impressive for a free offering.  It’s lightweight, simple to configure, and having a web dashboard that integrates with the phone side is pretty impressive.  Clicking a button from the web dashboard results in near immediate execution on the phone.  The tracking and location functions work based off the GPS if signal is avialable, and otherwise seem to use some sort of cellular triangulation.  I found that you did have to have a security password set in order for the phone lock function to work, but that’s understandable.  The paid version adds anti-spam and anti-virus capabilities, as well as an over-the-air backup and restore feature.  But really the most important thing I was looking for was the anti-theft and security features.  So I see myself staying with the free version.

Highly recommended.  This SmrtGuard application for mobile security is available on Blackberry, Android, and Symbian devices.  I see myself using it for as long as I own a smart phone.

If you use a Blackberry, Android phone, or Symbian device – check them out: