Yet Another Blog About Stuff

Wordsteal (Wordox) Is Back!

Posted by yabas on December 19, 2007

Finally! After the problems experienced over the last few weeks once again I can get my fix of Wordox / Wordsteal.

So, it’s time to remember some of those pesky two lettered words and play!


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Where Has The Real Dirk Kuyt Gone?

Posted by yabas on December 18, 2007

15 months ago just after half time at home to West Ham, Anfield got its first look at one of the new summer signings, and within minutes he had the crowd captivated with his energy and dynamism as he strived to mark his debut with a goal.

As he found himself space and screamed for the ball time after time it was clear we were witnessing one of the most impressive debuts of recent times and it became obvious why David Moores decided to dip into his own pocket to ensure Rafa got the man he wanted – Dirk Kuyt.

A glance at the match breakdown from that day makes for impressive reading – in the 38 minutes he was on the pitch he had 5 attempts on goal, and made two incisive passes from which first Bellamy beat the keeper but was ruled offside and then Pennant was brought down in the area but no penalty was awarded.

Fast forward to 15 months later, and a look at the match breakdown from the weekend tells a different story. In the entire first half his only mention is “Dirk takes a piggyback ride on Anderson!” He has two entries for the second half, first a “nice break with Torres” and finally the inevitable substitution as he was replaced by Crouch.

It would be easy to dismiss this as being one bad match, but the truth is his performance was, well, a typical Kuyt one. He works hard, closes down, makes life difficult for the opposition and when needed will appear on either flank, in midfield, even in our own penalty box on occasions. His work rate and effort are unquestionable, and for this reason he is popular amongst supporters.

But he is a striker, and is meant to be one of some repute. His main function is to stick the ball into the back of the net, failing which to find a team mate in a position to do so. Everything else he does is pretty much secondary to that, though his ability to work for the team should mark him out as a great striker rather than just a good one.

In other words we need the Dirk Kuyt that came on against West Ham last season, not the pale imitation that has been turning up since.

Maybe he, like a young Ian Rush, needs to be taken to one side and told to “be selfish”, or maybe he needs someone to tell him just how good he could be. After all, he was doing the job for Feyenord where he was ‘the main man’ but surrounded by a team of ‘main men’ perhaps he is getting lost a little. Or maybe someone needs to show him the video of the West Ham game and say “now go out and do that every week.”

Whatever it takes someone needs to do it, because Dirk Kuyt is just too good to allow him to drift away without reaching his full potential and at the moment that is exactly what I can see happening.

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Liverpool 0 Manchester Utd 1

Posted by yabas on December 17, 2007

The results of some games are hard to put into context. Losing today is, when all is said and done, just 3 dropped points and while it is something of a double blow after last weekends loss that in itself is hardly the end of the world or indeed the end of out title aspirations.

After all, none of the “big 4” are immune from dropping points this season so putting a decent run of results together should see the table close up again.

But… this game is always about much more than just 3 points.

I don’t suppose the game itself would have made great viewing for most people, as the two sides just cancelled each other out for the most part. There was plenty of endeavour and passion on display but it won’t be going down as a classic.

As always seems to be the case the Mancs enjoyed a little bit of luck while we didn’t and in the end that made all the difference. They survived two defensive blunders, while we made one and conceded from it.

No doubt the media will use this as a stick to beat us with and to declare that it shows we are not genuine title contenders, and in the immediate aftermath it would be easy to get sucked into that way of thinking.

I don’t think that’s the case though as there was nothing to be seen today that suggests they are any better than we are. Maybe it isn’t our year for the title, and I never thought it was, be we need to be in the hunt to allow our players to gain the experience of the pressure that brings.

Chelsea are up next, though as it’s the League Cup you may as well call it a reserve game, so there is a week now to get this out of our systems and prepare for Portsmouth. That won’t be an easy game by any means, but we can’t afford 3 losses on the bounce so nothing less than 3 points will do.

Match report at BBC Sport

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Wordox Withdrawal Symptons – A Cure?

Posted by yabas on December 17, 2007

In the continued absence of Wordox / Wordsteal I have been looking for something similar to fill the void. Sadly, there seems to be nothing quite as good but there are a few contenders.

Scrabulous is a pretty good implementation of the basic Scrabble, and is free. This is the grandfather of word games, but to be honest if I wanted to play it I would get the board out and grab some unsuspecting opponent to beat up on. The thing I like about Wordox is the way that game play has been adapted to suit online play – it wouldn’t work as a board game, but I don’t want to play a board game!

Literati has been around for a while, and I used to play it when the original Wordox vanished. Somehow though it just doesn’t scratch the itch.

The best substitute I have found is Griddler, and I am particularly enjoying the “quick game”. In the quick game you have to make words on the grid to score as highly as possible, within a set time limit (anything from 2 to 7 minutes) while your opponent does the same. The player with the highest score wins. You don’t have to register to play, though if you want rankings and the challenge of being matched against opponents of a similar ability then registration is required.

It also offers the option of a more traditional word game environment with each player taking turns on the same grid.

Wordsteal its not, but until that returns it passes time quite enjoyably and is worth checking out if you need to keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay for a few moments.

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Cappello and the English Language

Posted by yabas on December 14, 2007

Fabio Capello has already answered one of the major questions about his suitability for the England manager job by conducting the majority of his discussions with Brian Barwick and Trevor Brooking in English, and while his grasp of the language may need to improve a little he certainly had enough words to deal with the journalist that turned up at his home hoping to grab a scoop – “You go outside my house” were the only words he got for his efforts!

As the FA and Cappello seek to finalise the details that will lead to his appointment next week, mainly concerning the contracts of those he wishes to bring in to support him, fans will have to wait until the press conference that the FA have pencilled in on Monday to announce his appointment before getting an opportunity to judge how well he speaks English for themselves.

It wouldn’t surprise me though if his perceived lack of English isn’t used to provide him with a shield during the initial stage of hs tenure. With the English media and the hype surrounding both his appointment and the England team in general it could certainly provide a useful way of erecting a barrier to keep journalists at arms length for a while.

Where he is likely to struggle, at least to begin with, are those times when you don’t have the thinking time to translate the thoughts in your head into a foreign tongue. Before press conferences and to a certain extent on the training pitch you can take a calm, measured approach. In the heat of the dressing room it is a different matter – particularly at half time when a manager has a few minutes to find the words needed to inspire and alter the flow of a match.

Rafa Benitez has experienced this at first hand and has commented that this is the one area Cappello will need to work on. “Capello is a great manager. He is a winner. The one thing he will need to do is improve his English. When I came to Liverpool from Valencia, I found it very hard at first. The most difficult time is in the dressing-room at half-time because that is a difficult time for any manager.”

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Taking Responsibility

Posted by yabas on December 13, 2007

At the end of August, five boys aged from 12 to 14 were found guilty of killing Ernest Norton in February 06. In October they were each sentenced to two years detention for manslaughter and violent disorder.

The story goes that these boys were part of a gang that were hanging around Erith Leisure Centre in London, throwing stones at the building and generally acting anti-socially. Ernest Norton was playing cricket with his son and the gang noticed them and started spitting at him before throwing stones and other missiles at him, a couple of which hit him on the head. He collapsed, suffered a heart attack and died.

Today the boys have been released apparently because it could not be said which of their actions had been the one that actually caused Mr Nortons heart attack. Lord Justice Gage will be giving reasons for his decision later, and the boys will be sentenced separately for violent disorder.

I am normally very wary of the sentencing of minors for crimes, and believe that while they should be held responsible for their actions the length of punishment should be proportionate to their ages. Two years detention in this case seemed a reasonable outcome under that criteria though.

However, at what point does a group become responsible for the actions of an individual? Surely each and every person in the gang contributed to the death of Mr Norton and therefore each one should take responsibility for that? How can a manslaughter charge not be justified?

I shall be awaiting the outcome of the sentencing for violent disorder with interest, because anything less than the two years detention already given would surely be sending out a message to gangs everywhere that it doesn’t really matter what you do because the courts won’t make you take responsibility for your actions.

Sadly, kids these days already feel that is the case and until we can reverse that trend then the incidents of anti-social behaviour will only continue to increase.

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Ever Fancied Running For Office?

Posted by yabas on December 13, 2007

For a while now I have been playing an online game called Senate Seeker.

The premise is simple – you create an account to run for either the House, Senate or Governor for a state (actually you can create 8 accounts and run for a mix of them in different places). It is essentially a turn based strategy game with a political twist, and with elections happening every week you never have to wait too long to get a sense of achievement – or the opportunity to try again with fresh hope. Opportunities exist to seize control of a political party or even (rather topically) run for President.

It is an excellent game, let down somewhat by having a less than active admin / owner. A slight sense of doom pervades the playing community at the moment as the single active admin is quitting soon, having got fed up with the owners lack of involvement.

However, I suspect the game will survive the current crisis, as the owner does have a habit of getting involved at the last minute when the games future is under threat.

Now would be an excellent time for a new player to give it a try, as some of the previously dominant players have decided they have played enough so the opening is there for the “next generation” to make their mark.

And if the game doesn’t survive, then if you have an interest in both multiplayer turn based games and politics it could be the last chance to play something I believe is unique on the internet. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that though!

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Wordox Stolen Away… An Update

Posted by yabas on December 13, 2007

This is a follow up to Wordox Stolen Away… Again!

Having done some searching around, it appears that Wordsteal is hosted by “Mark” who is having ISP problems but hopes to have the game back up and running again “before Christmas”.

Den of Thieves offers a “Forum for users of Mark Byers’ Wordsteal” including site status updates. The latest one posted today reads:

“I have heard, from a “reliable source” (not Mark), that Mark has made arrangements with a new ISP and is waiting for a connection to be installed. There is no word word about the timing, but at least it seems to have progressed a bit. Keep your fingers crossed, folks!” (Posted byPhilGray)

Here’s hoping it is back up and running soon!

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Who Next For Liverpool In The Champions League?

Posted by yabas on December 13, 2007

With qualification for the knock out stages of the Champions League secured, thoughts naturally turn to the draw for the next round.

Because the rules of the competition preclude being drawn against a team from the same group or of the same nationality it leaves a rather short list of possible opponents and we therefore know already that our next opponents will come from either Spain or Italy.

Spain is our most likely destination, with 3 possibilities in the draw: Barcelona, Real Madrid or Sevilla.

Sevilla are, on paper at least, the weakest of our possible opponents though when you take into account the overall strength of the Spanish League (in which they are currently 9th) and the fact that they came through to finish first in Arsenals group you have to to conclude that “weakest” certainly does not equate to “weak”. They are a team you would expect to beat however, and as such in many ways I feel this would be the worst possible draw for us. We seem to perform better when the odds are against us and everyone underestimates our chances.

Barcelona and Real Madrid would provide the type of games the Kop thrives on, but having played (and beaten) Barcelona at the same stage last season Real Madrid would be preferable out of the two of them if only because the only time we have played them was the 1981 final and as such we’ve never had the opportunity to welcome them the Anfield (or indeed visit the Bernabeu).

From Italy the two Milan clubs could provide the opposition. AC Milan we know all about, of course, having played them in the final two times in the last three seasons. With those results being split equally a “deciding” match would be a tempting proposition although surely only the final next May would be a suitable stage for such an event! That said, they are struggling a bit in their domestic league and have yet to win at home – an amazing statistic! Surely though they will have rectified this by the time the Champions League restarts again in the new year!

Inter Milan are another team that we have only been drawn against once in the past, and if the 81 final against Real Madrid lives on famously in the minds of Reds, the 65 semi-final against Inter lives on for it’s infamy!

A 3-1 win at Anfield seemed to have paved the way to our first European Cup final, two years before Celtic became the first British team to lift the trophy. A 3-0 defeat in the away leg left a bitter taste in the mouths of all concerned, and rumours of corruption / bribery remain to this day. Inter went on to beat Benfica in the final, and we had to wait 12 years to first taste victory.

So… who what would be the best draw for us then? Well, my personal order of preference is as follows…

1 – Real Madrid

It’s about time we faced them, and the big match / against all odds atmosphere would suit us perfectly.

(Previous Games: P 1 W 1 D 0 L 0)

2 – Inter Milan

A chance for revenge… some 43 years later!

(Previous Games: P 2 W 1 D 0 L 1)

3 – Sevilla

A tie that should see us progress, but over optimism could see our downfall.

(Previous Games: P 0 W 0 D 0 L 0)

4 -AC Milan

A tough match, which could go either way. Their poor start to the season could see them concentrating on Europe as their best chance for glory which could spell bad news for us.

(Previous Games: P 2 W 1 D 0 L 1)

5 – Barcelona

An excellent side, but having beaten them last year they would no doubt welcome the opportunity for revenge. In fact we’ve played too frequently in recent years for this to be a really attractive draw.

(Previous Games: P 8 W 3 D 2 L 2)

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Cappello for England?

Posted by yabas on December 12, 2007

Fabio Capello is looking certain to become the next England manager, at least if the media reports are to be believed, and there is no doubting the guy has an impressive track record. He has managed 4 different clubs (Milan, Real Madrid, Roma and Juventus) and has won league titles with them all, as well as winning the Champions League with Milan.

At 61 years old, he should offer a wealth of experience whilst the less demanding day to day rigours of international management compared with club management may well suit him. Clearly he is someone that the FA should at least consider, and his CV is way above that of any English manager that may have been in the running.

However, there’s a slight problem that nobody seems to be mentioning, and I don’t mean the fact he can’t reportedly speak fluent English because while that must surely be an issue if it’s true it is one that can be overcome. Of more concern to me is he does seem to have a track record of falling out with players.

Totti, del Piero, Cassano, Beckham and Ronaldo have all reputedly had problems with him in the past and while no one but the parties concerned know what was really said behind closed doors and what their relationship was like that has to be of concern when considering someones suitability for a role where he would ultimately be successful based on his ability to get on with and motivate a select band of players.

At club level if a manager doesn’t get on with a player he can move the player on, get a transfer fee and use that to bring in a replacement. The problem is gone, and the headlines are soon forgotten about. At international level replacements aren’t so easy to find and even if you do drop a player they don’t go away nor do they stop being English. They are always there in the background, with the media questioning the decision not to select them and asking their opinion every time a result doesn’t go your way. If you keep on winning that isn’t a problem of course, but normally the end result is a chipping away of morale in the dressing room and a build up of pressure on the manager.

Cappello would no doubt answer such concerns by pointing to his track record – in football the old attitude of “show us your medals” still rules and in many cases correctly so. But, there is a difference between club and international football and whilst each share a common skill set they both place a different level of emphasis on different abilities.

There is no doubt that Cappello is a great manager, possibly one of the greatest. The question the FA need to answer is does that mean he has the required skills to be a great international manager?

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