Thursday, 13 December 2012

How the booing culture is ruining the modern game

A non-tech post here but give it a go :)

As Arsenal were roundly booed off at full-time after their defeat to Swansea a couple of weeks back it struck me that I'd heard plenty of booing this season - and far too much of this has been directed towards the supporter's team. Is it just me or did we rarely hear the noise with that intention at games 10 years ago? It has become commonplace to boo a side for losing to a team that common-sense suggests they should beat. We've seen this with Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and even my beloved Newcastle recently and I believe it's a bigger problem than we think.

It's a difficult area. Obviously when you pay your money to watch a game you have every right to behave how you feel appropriate - assuming its legal. The cost of a football ticket in the Premier League - especially in London - is astronomical. For a Dad and his Son, a matchday experience at a London-based Premier League ground can easily cost £100. And maybe the money is key behind this booing culture. After all, who's going to be more annoyed - someone who has paid £60 to see their team lose, or someone who has paid £30? The majority of the time it will be the former. With heightened expense comes heightened expectation and therefore more irritation when that expectation cannot be matched. Do lower league teams experience the same reaction to a defeat? No. So that would suggest that the key variable is money. 

Unfortunately this leads me to suggest that the emotional connection to our clubs, especially in the higher leagues, is reducing. Brutal - yes - but I believe a reality. The idea of supporting your team through thick and thin is threatened when you expect a certain amount for your money. No longer is football about enjoying a game when that expectation is so prominent.

I suppose it can be likened to a bad restaurant experience. If you feel you have received far below the quality you have paid for - then you complain. Fine. Absolutely no problem with that. There is however a key difference between the restaurant analogy and booing at a football match: There is an end goal with a complaint to a restaurant - be it a refund or a meal for free. This end goal is not so apparent in a football match. Which begs the question: What does booing actually achieve?
     If you boo your own player, manager or team - what are you hoping it will do? The argument that it is 'letting the team know what is unacceptable' doesn't wash with me. All of us have played - and you know full well when it's not going as you'd hoped. Booing simply applies pressure to a team who need support; however hard that may be. Fans are very fickle and quick to forget the recent history of their club. As a Newcastle fan I should be supportive of a team that have been going through a bad patch after delivering us such unexpected success last season. Andre Villas Boas and his Tottenham side were roundly booed after just one half at White Hart Lane and Chelsea... Well, what can you say? All of these clubs have experienced change that will affect what happens on the pitch.

I understand it's difficult because fans don't get the chance to interact with players on a personal level and if a team is underperforming then how do we as fans get that out of our system? That is up to the individual - be it on social media (although not by abusing the players on there - that is a different irritation of mine), down the pub or wherever. Just before you boo a team next time, don't follow the crowd, just stop and think whether it will help and if its justified. I think you'll find that the majority of the time - it isn't.

If you wish to complain, seek other channels and leave it away from the 90 minutes we all enjoy each week - it doesn't help anyone.

Google summarises 2012 - in epic fashion

If you haven't seen it so far check out Google's "Zeitgeist 2012: Year in Review" video below.

Warning - It's epic.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Windows Phone trys to fight Android - and fails miserably

I saw a few tweets appear on my Twitter stream this morning all involving "#droidrage" and "#windowsphone". Intrigued I searched deeper into the topic and discovered thousands of sarcastic tweets from happy Android users trolling the hashtag.

Yes, this was another Twitter campaign #fail. The perpetrators this time were Windows Phone. 

Following in the footsteps of MacDonalds and RIM, Microsoft encouraged all Android users to tweet the malware irritations they had with the Android OS and phones. Yep, you know the rest... Compared with Windows Phone there are few weaknesses and this came through in the sarcastic tweets that ensued. Popular topics were Instagram (which Windows Phone doesn't have), widgets (which Windows Phone doesn't have) and Windows Phone popularity (which... You get the idea!!).

If you read my blog regularly you'll know that I have plenty of time for the Windows OS. It's crisp, clear and intuitive. However, the marketing teams are in the precarious situation of taking on iOS and Android, the latter of which is at an all-time height of popularity and strength. With the best spec handsets and Android 4.0 onwards - Windows Phone really has misjudged this social campaign.

When running a campaign like this it is important that the gamble you take does not get trolled and backfire in making you look more stupid. This is exactly what has happened here.

Windows Phone is a good product being dragged down by stupid stunts like this.

UPDATE: I was later informed that this was the second failed attempt at the campaign - the mere fact I hadn't seen the first one speaks volumes. To attempt this for a second time and fail again is dreadful practice and shows just how out of touch Windows Phone is from the buying masses.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Google Music - What is it and should you get it?

I've been using Google Music for a couple of weeks now and thought it best to share my experiences. Few people I know have heard of Google Music, let alone use it. This is bound to be different in the US (let me know) but either way Google Music is still very fresh and young into a established market despite being around for about a year in the US already. Anyway, for those that don't know - what is Google Music and why should you be interested?

Google Music is effectively Cloud-based music. It allows you to listen to one collection of music - wherever you are. Google Music is giving further purpose to the ever-growing Android Play Store and you can also upload music on your computer and almost instantly listen on your Android tablet or phone. Google limits you to 20,000 songs initially.

It got off to a good start in my eyes because the app put a 'next track' option in the notification bar on my HTC One X. (something HTC inexcusably forgot!) The app is clean, clear and has a nice UI which adopts in a Android-style 'slide across' function which works with beautiful efficiency.
      Setting yourself up on Google Music is a bit of effort, but it is effort worth putting in because once everything is in place - the system works beautifully efficiently. The 'music manager' that needs to be downloaded on the desktop is effectively just an uploader to the cloud but works quietly and effectively in the background.

So far I've been frustrated that the music on my phone and tablet does not seem to be easily synced the other way but that is a minor inconvenience at the moment. Despite this and a few other teething problems the future looks bright for Google Music and competitors should be wary. With the continuing growth of the Android OS - the cross-platform liquid syncing is very appealing.

The beauty of Android is that it's not hard to move music around (take note Apple) so Google Music, for the moment at least, is really just for those with multiple Android devices. There aren't loads of us at the moment but the Nexus range will do a lot to change that. That doesn't mean for one minute that you should avoid Google Music - just that to really see the benefits you need to stretch the Cloud! Obviously if you're using other devices or platforms, Google Music probably isn't for you - yet.

Oh - did I mention - being Google, this is of course all free!

Thanks for reading. Have you used Google Music - or will you be in the future? What are your initial thoughts?

Stay tuned - my next blog will be a technology guide for Christmas...