Favourite’s Weekend

Ah, finally a weekend for the punters. Or so we think, at least. Flicking through the cards this weekend, it’s extremely hard to gravitate away from the favourites in the races that catch the eye. So, this is not the weekend you get rich but a healthy profit is still to be made.

13.50 Ascot olbg.com Mares’ Hurdle

Even with the extra 4lbs over all rivals, it’s hard not to like LA BAGUE AU ROI at 11/10. She is the highest rated and rightly so, having won her last three in classy style. The danger is Dusky Legend who was giving her weight last time out and is no slouch. Midnight Tune arrives in great form and cannot be ruled out if the selection does not fire. Don’t forget to take advantage of Skybet’s Money Back If Second offer for this race.

14.15 Taunton Bathwick Tyres Seniors’ Handicap Hurdle

Whilst the Taunton card doesn’t attract the attention like Ascot and Haydock this weekend, we have a senior’s race that attracts an entry for Paul Nicholl’s IRVING. He is weighted less than his last win in a handicap, get the benefit of an excellent jockey in Bryony Frost (as well as her 5lb claim) and generally just runs in better company than this so 2/1 is a fair price. Monbeg Legend has lots of 1s in the form column but doesn’t do much winning in winter. Kings Lad hasn’t raced for nearly 2 years and this is surely a prep run for Cold March who is a chaser.

14.40 Haydock Bathwick Tyres Seniors’ Handicap Hurdle

With only four entries, it seems the class and experience of THE NEW ONE has scared off the rest of the potential field. He has won five times at Haydock in good company and relishes a small field so 11/10 looks about right. 6 lbs lighter, Ch’tibello is the main danger but he was beaten easily by the selection at Cheltenham. Clyne shouldn’t trouble the seasoned campaigner and it would be a real shock to see Unison in the frame.

15.15 Haydock Peter Marsh Handicap Chase

A real tough one to dissect but finally some value on offer. Rock The Kasbah is the likely market favourite with the champion jockey on board and is best after a break. Hainan looks a peach of a price at 7/1; 7 lbs lower than Rock The Kasbah and fully proved last time out that a hard slog is his game. If on top form, which we haven’t seen for a while, this shouts YALA ENKI and a price of 8/1 with 4 places on offer with Skybet is not to be ignored. Tintern Theatre is another weighted well but only seems to win with Sam Twiston-Davies on board.

15.35 Ascot Royal Salute Whisky Clarence House Chase

Brain Power was staying on nicely last time out at Sandown before unseating his rider but it was tough to suggest firmly that he would have won that day. He comes up against a tougher opponent here in UN DE SCEAUX. One of the quickest horses in training and rightly priced at 4/7. However, if you use this special link (and be quick as it won’t last) then you can get Evens which is simply a terrific price. On top form, the only danger in this race is the inclusion of fences between the start and the finish. The remainder three horses are good but simply not the same calibre.

 

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Lanzarote Hurdle Weekend

Am I confident that all my below selections are going to win this weekend? Absolutely not. Is there still a lot of value to be gleaned in the extremely tight racing today? Yes, of course there is. Let’s take a look.

 

13.30 Kempton 32Red Download The App Handicap Chase

Exitas was beaten easily yesterday and won’t go in this. Despite carrying top weight, Bishop’s Court looks the one to side with in this but was beaten in November by BREATH OF BLIGHTY over this distance and at this track. Nothing suggests he cannot do it again so 5/1 is an interesting each way punt. The Tailgater goes better on harder ground and there are questions around Mercian Prince’s form so seems an odd favourite.

 

14.10 Punchestown Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle

MENGLI KHAN (11/8) will have lost a few followers when opting to jump through the wing of the fence last time out rather than over it but form beforehand – including a grade 1 win – suggests that was a one off and there shouldn’t be too much to worry about. Getabird is the obvious danger carrying 6 lbs less but hasn’t beat anything of note over hurdles. He beat Hardline when carrying 5lbs more so has him beat on the flat. Carter McKay attracts the most each way attention at 8/1.

 

14.25 Warwick Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle

Tobefair and Sykes look too high in the weights to be competitive in this one. The same cannot be said with Templeross who if recreating best form looks a good shout at 11/1. The Organist looks to have found her distance but should find the class of NO HASSLE HOFF too much who can’t be sniffed at with a price of 11/2. The form of Black Ivory suggests the biggest danger, especially with Jamie Hamilton claiming 3 lbs off an already low weight.

 

14.40 Kempton Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle

Over further, Top Ville Ben would get the nod at a ridiculous price but there are some prospects that simply go quicker. Bags Groove is a course and distance winner but goes top weight. At the other end of the weights, Man From Mars will attract each way attention with Harry Cobden on board. The winner will likely come from the top 4 in the market with Topofthegame carrying the lowest weight and nice numbers in the form column but RIVER FROST gets the nod at 6/1 having beaten Bags Groove well previously and his lesser form coming behind the likes of Sam Spinner and Wholestone.

 

15.35 Warwick Betfred Classic Handicap Chase

The market may prove the best deciding factor in this one with any number of horses having chances. Sir Mangan offers terrific value at 13/2 for the Skeltons but Missed Approach’s recent form asks question about his favouritism. His 6th place last time at Newbury was respectable but COGRY should have been placed further up the field that day on usual form and is worth taking another gamble on at 11/1. On The Road, Emperor’s Choice and Milansbar all ran in the Welsh National but none of them finished so get chances here. Cresswell Breeze is one to look out for having won over this distance at Sandown last time out.

Welsh National and Tolworth Meeting Preview

Today, we get an unexpected double helping thanks to the rearranged Welsh National meeting at Chepstow. Our expected selections come from the hotly anticipated Tolworth meeting at Sandown and we have a cheeky selection over in Ireland that the handicapper may have got all wrong.

13.50 Sandown 32Red Casino Handicap Chase

Overtown Express wasn’t giving Le Rocher the beating we anticipated when falling last time out at long odds on but usually goes better when held up. He has Rock On Rocky held on form and should have the beating of Pearl’s Legend. So, it goes down to a three way shoot out with him, Speredek and GINO TRAIL with the latter getting the nod on conditions despite carrying a chunk more weight.

13.55 Cork Geradine McCarthy Memorial Handicap Hurdle

Westerner Point is the obvious choice for this one carrying good form and has won over course and distance. Josies Orders will attract market attention out at 16/1 but does all winning over cross country circuits but hasn’t been doing that recently. So, it’s TOUT EST PERMIS who gets the nod in this one with a lowly weight of only 10 stone to carry and in form Rachael Blackmore backed to steer home at 11/2.

14.05 Chepstow Welsh Grand National

Any Grand National is impossible to “predict” with chances all over the place. We’ll start with Wild West Wind who beat the impressive Alife Spinner last time out and 8/1 looks a decent price. The same price for Mysteree who carries 4 lbs less but we haven’t seen his on a racecourse for the best part of a year. Chase The Spud is a horse to follow winning over varying grounds and distances but might be too high in the weights. Vintage Clouds is probably Sue Smith’s best horse in training and is a keen stayer but has never won over this far but you wouldn’t put it past this great horse. Beware The Bear is another hit with a high weight but carries terrific form beating Bishop’s Road last time out. A chance therefore is taken on VICENTE who despite top weight offers phenomenal value at 18/1, especially with Skybet offering 6 places on this market. He has won over further and always gives a great account of himself. The only danger here is the rain, in which case, Vintage Clouds will get the nod at 10/1.

14.25 Sandown 32Red Tolworth Novices Hurdle

In truth, this doesn’t scream excitement compared to previous winners of Finian’s Oscar, L’ami Serge and Yorkhill. Sussex Ranger is probably better suited in the race he is entered in at Chepstow but What A Dream looks to already have that won. He carries good form but hasn’t beat much so far. WESTERN RYDER should be the pick on form and with the champion jockey on board but the interest is with Mont Des Avaloirs who is a curious horse and could be backed into anything. His form reads well and looks a good type but Paul Nicholl’s chief jockeys have chosen rides elsewhere.

15.00 Sandown Veterans’ Handicap Chase

Keep an eye on this market throughout the day because as soon as GAS LINE BOY drifts out to 5/1, there will be wheelbarrows queuing up outside the bookies. In a veteran race, he should have the staying power to see off all the competition if replicating his last win at Aintree. Fox Appeal is a danger back on a winning mark. You never know which Cloudy Too is going to show up and it would be just like Double Ross to show up for the first time in a while. Houblon Des Obeaux was never in it last time out at Sandown but Pete The Feat always offers each way value.

 

Boxing Day Bonanza

This should be fun.

No fewer than ten race cards for Boxing Day reading but you could be forgiven for just paying attention to the King George and the rest of the Kempton card. So, luckily, I’ve done the hard work, hand-picked the best races and potentially found you some winners.

12.45 Kempton 32Red Casino Novices Hurdle

A lively opener for the card of the day with If The Cap Fits and Diese De Bieffes likely to contest favouritism. The latter attracts more attention at a lower weight and Simply The Betts looked a good prospect on the flat but that was on good ground. It will be softer today and SOLOMON GREY looks the value option at 10/1 with an 11-length win and the formidable Skelton to boast, despite If The Cap Fits beating him last time out.

13.55 Kempton Kauto Star Novices Chase

An interesting battle between horses that have all beaten each other and been muddled up in the weights. Tough to breakdown but BLACK CORTON gets the vote based on a generous 5/1 price attracting an each way stab paired with how well Bryony Frost gets on with him. Mia’s Storm is the obvious choice carrying fantastic form seeing off the likes of Antarctica De Thaix by many lengths. Ballyoptic looked like becoming a classy horse but was well beaten by Black Corton last time out. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see West Approach in the mix, it seems like he’s just not found the right race yet. A small footnote to mention that Skybet are paying 3 places on this race.

14.10 McMahon Builders Providers Novice Chase

This should be between one of three horses with the outsiders rightly being outsiders. Abre De Vie hasn’t looked the horse we all thought he would become since his first win and is without a recognised jockey as Alexis Poirer comes over from France with Paul Townend opting for the Leopardstown meeting and Ruby Wash still out injured. That leaves Tombstone and AL BOUM PHOTO with the latter winning easily last time out even with mistakes and carrying three pounds less. 4/7 looks a reasonable price, ideal for adding to that banker you’ve no doubt had up your sleeve.

14.10 Wetherby 188Bet Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase

All these horses have chances. Wakanda was a good second in this last years and carries less weight so appeals but still carries a fair amount more than GET ON THE YAGER (7/2) who rallied home over further in testing conditions but that shouldn’t be a problem. Aloomo does a lot of coming close but could find this too far. Shantou Flyer is interesting simply due to the booking of James Reveley who only rides in France. His only ride of the day is intriguing but Wetherby is not too far from the family home for Christmas. Actinpieces is a solid horse on the right day and could offer more value if the selection comes in overnight.

14.20 Leopardstown Racing Post Novice Steeplechase

Jett looked a horse with a future but looked out of place in a grade 3 when beaten by Tombstone. The same can be said for Avenir D-une Vie and Any Second Now which leaves us with a straight shootout between Footpad and Death Duty. There shouldn’t be much between them but whilst Skybet are offering up Evens on FOOTPAD, it seems an offer you cannot decline when you compare the first time over fences for each horse, with Footpad’s the most impressive.

14.30 Kempton Christmas Hurdle

We simply must see Faugheen take on BUVEUR D’AIR over hurdles. Until then, this should be a walk in the park for the 1/5 priced Buveur D’air – even with the evergreen The New One in company who is looking less green this season. He did beat Old Guard last time out so the optimistic each way backer should cash in sooner rather than later whilst there is still a return in sight. It would be something if the other two got a sniff.

15.05 Kempton King George VI Chase

The biggest main event since the turkey yesterday and it’s a tough one. Favourite backers will love the allure of Might Bite who romped home, stopped, then continued to romp home at the Cheltenham festival. If it rains overnight and the ground goes soft (or more) then it’s impossible to oppose BRISTOL DE MAI at 7/2. After winning well in the Charlie Hall and winning ridiculously in the Betfair Chase, it will take a lot to stop this green machine. The card is packed with contenders with the likes of Thistlecrack- the best horse in training until injury- returning quickly from being too stiff. Fox Norton seemingly needed further in the Tingle Creek and gets it here. Whisper is a curious entry and wouldn’t be here for no reason. Tea For Two and Traffic Fluide seem outclassed and Double Shuffle has clearly been entered by mistake.

GIVE ME MORE

Outside of the previewed races, it’s worth following the progress of Harry Cobden at Wincanton with some nice entries and a “to win X races” bet wouldn’t be turned down.

Gilgamboa looks a good thing for the hunters chase at 13.10 in Down Royal and Modulus is overpriced in the 14.45 at Wetherby.

 

 

 

 

Paul McCarthy; that cup run and my Grandad.

Paul McCarthy

Sad news broke yesterday that ex Wycombe Wanderers centre back, Paul McCarthy, passed away of a suspected heart attack, aged just 45.

Born in Cork, McCarthy made 181 appearances for Brighton & Hove Albion before moving to Wycombe Wanderers where he will be remembered forever as a cult hero.

A decent centre back for the level in his own right but his real bragging rights were in “that cup run” of 2000/2001.

FA Cup

“Macca” passed away on the 20th February 2017 which is exactly 16 years since he scored the equaliser against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park to take the FA Cup 5th round replay to the most famous penalty shootout in Wycombe’s history, perhaps the cup’s history and for some even footballing history.

For Wycombe Wanderers, the 5th round of the FA Cup was extraordinary. Paul was instrumental in Wycombe getting this far.

A centre back that was not to be messed with, Paul popped up with an overhead kick in the 2nd round replay away against Millwall and Wycombe were into the 3rd round of the FA Cup – having never previously scored when reaching this round.

McCarthy scored in this game to and took the tie to a replay then scored another in the replay to setup tasty home tie against Wolves. Andy Rammell celebrating in the snow in front of the home end will live long in the memory as Wycombe’s enthusiasm and grit took them into the 5th round to setup a tie against Wimbledon.

Millwall+1.jpeg

Dreaming

I was 10 years old and had started to dream of a cup run. It was all anybody was talking about at school. Lunchtimes would be Wycombe vs Wimbledon then Wycombe vs Manchester United then Wycombe win the FA Cup final against Arsenal in the last minute thanks to any number of lads on the playground.

I remember taking my usual seat in between my Grandad and my Dad before kick off in the 5th round of the FA Cup and my Grandad passed me a traditional pre-match Wether’s Original and told me were going to make the quarter finals here, he had a good feeling. I was just worried about how many goals we would ship and how embarrassing it would be in school on Monday.

To my surprise – and everybody else’s – we forced a replay at Selhurst Park. What a bog that was. If ever there was a pitch not fit for a football match it was here.

Penalties

A scrappy affair which resulted in not a lot of football being played but as Sam Parkin threw a stepover to fool the Wimbledon right back and Dannie Bulman scuffed his shot out of the mud, who was there to keep the dream alive? The big man himself, Paul McCarthy, has forced a penalty shootout against Wimbledon of Division 1.

No child should ever be a bag of nerves at 10 years old but I couldn’t keep it together. Paul McCarthy calmly score his penalty and then all of sudden, Martin Taylor the goalkeeper has scored as well. What on earth was going on here? I had never seen a goalkeeper take a penalty, we could be about to reach the FA Cup quarter final and its way past my bed time.

The final Wimbledon penalty was sent way over the bar and we’d done it. Thank you so much Paul McCarthy for stretching that little bit further and knocking that last goal in.

martin taylor.jpg

Quarter Final

It was Leicester City of the Premiership next and I was certain that the run was over. No way could my team beat a premier league team – we were battling to stay in the league, let alone beat them.

But at 10 years old, I couldn’t help but dream. Every time I saw my Grandad in run up to the game, we’d talk for hours: what if we did this and imagine if Paul McCarthy scores again.

My imagination was running wild but Grandad knew that this sort of thing would never happen again so he dreamt with me. I don’t think we finished one game of cards in the build up to the quarter finals but it really didn’t matter.

You know the story by now. We’d sold out the away end at Filbert Street and the atmosphere was electric. There was a live stream back to the big screen at Adams Park and the entire town was there. This was a big deal for little Wycombe.

Overlooked by most due to Roy Essandoh’s fairy tale ending header, Macca headed us into the lead at Leicester. Was I seeing things? Was this a dream?

Leicester equalised and it looked like another reply was on the cards until Bulman lobbed the ball into the box in injury time and Jamie Bates rose higher than ever to nod it across the box where none other the teletext kid, the website wonder, Roy Essandoh headed home the winner and there were absolute scenes at Filbert Street and Adams Park.

Villa Park

We lost the in the semi-final to Liverpool but gave a good account of ourselves and Keith Ryan’s goal in front of the Holte End at Villa park will forever be my favourite goal.

kweith ryan.jpgI couldn’t contain myself. I don’t think I did any school work or even took off my shin pads until I got on the coach to Villa Park. I remember vividly chattering away to my Grandad and reading the last few match programmes to him when I threw up out of sheer excitement. It’s strange what football can do to you.

We arrived in good time and had a wonder around the biggest stadium I had ever seen. Bear in mind, Wycombe held 10,000 and was never full, this was enormous. As we took our seats, my Grandad said I might need to stand up and he lifted me onto the seat.

Completely baffled as to why, I stood on that seat the entire game and lost my voice in the process. I needed a half time Wether’s as well as the pre-match Wether’s today. Looking back, we were all stood up, of course we were. This was the biggest game in the history of Wycombe Wanderers, you couldn’t sit down!

We lost 2-1 through Robbie Fowler and Emile Heskey but were not disgraced. The result was trivial. The cup run, the build-up, the coach trip, the endless chatter with my Grandad, the many outcomes of the playground football led up to the best day of my life.

I miss my Grandad dearly and I miss watching Wycombe with him and my Dad. Row H in the family stand, last three seats from the final walkway on the right will always be ours.

Thank you, Grandad, for letting me dream and thank you, Paul McCarthy, for fulfilling it.

 

 

Festive Racing Day 2 Preview

Off the back of such an emphatic win for Thistlecrack yesterday, it’s hard to see a more impressive horse over the festive period or in fact this season.

There is however the small matter of the Welsh National as well as a host of other tasty looking races as we look to build on the small loss yesterday. If you followed every tip then you will be down by less than your stake per race – all in all, not bad going.

We start with the 13.20 at Leopardstown with the might DOUVAN. Such a fine and mighty horse should romp home but at 2/9, there is not much value so each way punters should take a chance on Black Hercules.

Next is the money back special if second or third (Skybet all customers) at Chepstow in the 13.25 and it would be silly to place an each way bet here considering the offer. I’m opting for ROLLING DYLAN who impressed last time out and could kick start a great day for Richard Johnson.

A similar race is the 13.45 at Kemtpon with ALTIOR a ridiculous price at 1/7. A smart jumper and almost too impossible to catch on the ground, I can’t see Marracudja getting near even at his best.

The 14.20 at Kempton is the most intriguing race of the day. With only 4 horses, it looks like a 2 horse race between Special Tiara and SIRE DE GRUGY. The latter carries a whole chunk of weight but I think he is by far the superior horse in the field and can justify his rise.

We see the Welsh National at 14.40 at Chepstow with Native River the hot favourite. After impressing hugely in the Hennessey at Newbury last month, it’s hard to see anybody coming close on even terms but he is carrying a considerable penalty and I can see CAROL’S DESTRIER passing him on the run in. Skybet are paying 6 places for all customer so an each way stake is the more desirable bet for this race.

If you have any money left over, there’s a big field to choose from in the 15.00 at Leopardstown. I’ve opted for COLM’S DREAM after dominating in Ireland last season but we haven’t seen him since.

The final race of interest today is the 15.05 at Wetherby. Judging by the market, course winner APTERIX is correctly the favourite to be on.

 

Festive Racing Day 1 Preview

If you’re joining us off the back of my Cheltenham or Aintree posts from earlier in the year then welcome back. If you’re new to this forum then fingers crossed we do as well as the festivals.

We’ve clearly been good this year as we look forward to the reappearance of Jezki as well as Sire De Grugy, Djakadam and Altior in great form. We also have the likes of Faugheen, Douvan and the small matter of the Welsh National.

Tomorrow, we are treated to three races that – on paper – should be between two classes horses.

The 14.20 at Leopardstown sees the highly anticipated Min vs Identity Thief and the 14.40 at Kempton gives us Yanworth vs The New One. On recent form, ground, course and distance, these are both too tight to call so I’m going for reverse forecasts in both. There’s not a great deal of value here but I’d rather spend my money where I think I’m going to make a profit than chase an outsider and throw money away.

The race of the day is, without a doubt, the King George at Kempton at 15.15. Always a classic, this race is made even more intriguing with Colin Tizzard running Thistlecrack as well as the mighty Cue Card. In a field this small, I am opting for THISTLECRACK to make all and disappear into the distance but the safer bet here is Skybet’s enhanced price of Evens for the reverse forecast.

As for the remainder of the day, there is more than enough racing to pick a few winners.

We start at Wetherby with the 13.50. Without the 10lb raise, I would be backing Yala Enki to make all and hold on but the penalty and the wide open field has pointed me in the direction of value and I fancy ACTINPIECES to steal a place. Betfair are offering a free bet if our selection is the winner of this race so stake with them.

The 14.25 should be a simple affair with SOLOMON GRUNDY finding enough in the latter stages – but it’s never that simple is it?

Back in Ireland, the 14.00 at Limerick sees the impressive BELLSHILL take on lesser competition. Nambour has looked handy recently without winning but probably won’t have enough.

The 14.55 at Leopardstown is an interesting one with BALL D’ARC a massive favourite in my eyes but the market not yet agreeing. Dandridge could be feared if the ground suits. Another race where Betfair are giving out free bets if you back my selection and he comes home first.

Switching back to England, YUKON DELTA should outclass his rivals in the 15.05 at Huntingdon if on top form. I’d advise hanging around to see if he drifts to 4/1 for each way money.

My final selections of the day are COBRA DE MAI in the 15.30 at Market Rasen and LISHEEN PRINCE in the 15.45 at Kempton. With top jockeys booked for good trainers, the each way prices seem too generous to turn down.

As always, take advantage of any bookie offers for new accounts and keep and eye out for extra place bets.

We’ll have a look at the following day’s meetings tomorrow.

Good Luck and Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

 

Bad Website or No Website?

I have been toying with the idea of taking down my website this week.

It is not serving its purpose of being an online portfolio as the company I used have become unresponsive and I cannot upload any recent work.

My contact form is not currently working so I have no new enquiries coming into my inbox via my website and my photos have seemingly become too large to load efficiently overnight.

I recently blogged elsewhere about UX (User Experience) and how critical it was to get it right from day one. However, I seem to have been a little hypocritical in my own work. 

9-5, I work for IP Solutions and major focus is on best of breed products, delivering usability and driving user adoption. I am a product ambassador and make my feelings clear if I don’t think a product or device is usable or as user friendly as it needs to be. 

Only yesterday, I opened up a browser version of a softphone and was shocked by the poor experience. If I were a customer, I’d be inclined to never attempt to use it again. Needless to say, I’ve pushed for some further development there.

Humans are programmed to look at pretty, shiny things and there is nothing wrong with that. You walk past a shop window and you want the best looking shoes, not the cheapest. You buy a house and you want the one with the most bedrooms and the outdoor pool, not the shack with no central heating.

Moving back to my website, with my network of social media connections and industry contacts, it’s hard to qualify exactly what my website is offering for my freelance work so I have made the decision to take it down rather than to promote what is simply poor work.

My chances of obtaining recurring freelance work via my website are reduced by the inability of the company I used to maintain my website or even reply to my email. This is a clear cut example of “If you buy on price, you buy twice”. I whored out my website to the lowest bidder and have been bitten by poor craft and quite diabolical customer service and experience. 

I write content for other people’s websites and blogs but on reflection I wouldn’t want my content on their website if it looked like mine currently did. 

The purpose of the blog, however, is not to point out how bad my experience with Futiq Technologies was but to retire my website for now (unless anybody has some free time and would like to fix this mess) and focus on writing rather than flogging a dead horse.

The morale of my story/ experience should be quite clear. Buy on price and you buy twice – but that was obvious and I was a fool in the first place. User experience is key – and if you don’t like it yourself then how on earth do you expect to sell it?!

My Spotify Love Affair

It’s a decision we all have to make. Commit or run for the hills?

I have subscribed and unsubscribed to Spotify Premium so often that I genuinely don’t remember if I am currently a member or not. I can be on the tube and my music cuts out because I don’t have a playlist saved. Oh, darn, I cancelled that didn’t I?

Just Subscribe Already

So why not subscribe permanently? Yesterday, I noticed that I had not used Spotify for almost three months because I accidentally moved the app into another folder and had just been using my iPod. £30 well and truly down the drain.

On a long car journey when your CDs (remember those?) have exhausted the 6 CD changer, where do you turn? To your phone, of course. But you have no wifi in your car and the 3G is a bit dodgy on the M5. The perfect time to have invested your tenner per month into Spotify Premium.

However, as a technology enthusiast, I am always eager to find the latest app of any kind. I flirted with Apple Music but canned that after the free trial because it simply wasn’t Spotify. A bit like owning the Amazon phone a few years ago – it was nice to try it but just wasn’t as good as the real thing.

The state the obvious believers among us will be screaming “JUST PAY FOR IT” but what about the money conscious people out there? Not just the tight fisted but there are people that simply don’t like throwing money away.

Nobody Ever Got Rich Spending Money

Okay, so not exactly true but you get the idea. You wouldn’t buy something you knew you weren’t going to use. And that’s why subscription based software is so great. You can pick and choose when you want to be paying for a certain product. A wonderful way of being more frugal.

SaaS (Software as a Service) is a buzz word in the telecoms/technology/telephony industry at the moment and isn’t going anywhere. Who knew we were all pioneering this years ago with the likes of Spotify and friends?

Wikipedia describes SaaS as software licensing in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software” SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser.

This is all correct but a little unfriendly to the everyday man. Wouldn’t it be better if it read “A bit like your Spotify love affair, you know?”

 

The Voice Recognition Take Over

Ten years ago, I thought voice activation would only ever exist in sci-fi films. Today, we have Siri and Cortana on devices that we use daily. This is software built into our smartphones and laptops to improve ease of use and accessibility – your own virtual, personal assistant.

We use them somewhat infrequently. You have to speak clearly and precisely to send a text or open a webpage but for the most part they do actually work. This software is also used outside of our phones too, only recently I was in a lift where voice recognition was used to get you to your desired floor.

Where did it begin?

When Apple and Siri were first introduced, the reviews were generally indifferent. Often Siri wouldn’t recognise particular accents and it would typically take three or four attempts for it just to interpret “Hi, Siri”. But since its launch Siri has come on leaps and bounds, now supporting a total of 22 different languages. Plus Apple claim it can now recognise a whole host of regional dialects.

Cortana, Microsoft’s offering, is now two years old and seems to be learning from Siri’s experience – whilst the fact it is now available to download on iPhone shows there could be some competition between the two. In December 2015, Apple claimed “Siri has little to fear from Microsoft’s virtual assistant” but if there is no fear there why are they acknowledging Cortana by writing about it?

Voice recognition could transform account access

Recently I telephoned First Direct and was informed about their Voice ID Security verification tool that they are due to implement. This is meant to transform the way in which we access our accounts over the phone – no longer will be need to stipulate our password, Mothers maiden name and our date of birth.

Instead this system will recognise your voice and know that it is you, subsequently providing you access. But just how safe is this method? There surely must be issues of people having a similar voice, or perhaps your own voice being altered by illness or a sore throat – would this then restrict your access even when it truly is you?

But with First Direct promising that a digital voice “print” is much more secure than any of the current methods we use – it is surely only a matter of time before we discover just how successful it will be.