John's little corner of teh interweb pipes thingy.

KDE l10n Status Check

In preparation for setting up the locale files with the right working week values, I thought I'd do a quick check on our l10n status against the official ISO standard list and the UN list of recognised entities.  Of the 246 currently on the ISO list, we have locale files for 228  So who are we missing?

  • AQ Antarctica
  • BL Saint Barthelemy
  • BV Bouvet Island
  • GF French Guiana
  • GG Guernsey
  • GS South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • HM Heard Island and MacDonald Islands
  • IM Isle of Man
  • IO British Indian Ocean Territory
  • JE Jersey
  • MF Saint Martin
  • MP Northern Mariana Islands
  • RE Reunion
  • SJ Svalbard and Jan Mayen
  • SL Sierra Leone
  • TF French Southern Territories
  • UM United States Minor Outlying Islands
  • YT Mayotte

OK, so there's a fair number of UK, US, and French territories in there, and some very remote uninhabited islands that are clearly to be considered as part of their parent country for locale purposes.  Yet they are officially recognised to some extent and many have the various trappings like flags and limited self-governance.  Where to draw the line is tricky, but if you're a KDE user from one of these territories and want to make a case for inclusion, then I'm willing to listen.  Jersey, Gurnsey and the Isle of Man could make good cases, as could the more autonomous French Collectivities.  Anyone claiming to be from Bouvet Island will be ignored as not existing :-)

The notable one here is Sierra Leone which undoubtably should be included.  Another difference is we have an old locale code of TP for East Timor, when the official code is now TL and the official name is now Timor-Leste.  With the feature and string freeze kicking in tomorrow, it's probably a bit late to fix these now, but we'll have to sort it in 4.3.

Weekends Around The World: Calling all i18n Maintainers.

Here's a quote for you from Wikipedia:

"In Muslim-majority countries the legal work week in the Middle East is typically either Saturday through Wednesday (as in Algeria and Saudi Arabia), Saturday through Thursday (as in Iran) or Sunday through Thursday (as in Egypt, Syria, United Arab Emirates).  For most Israelis, the work week begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday or Friday at noon to accommodate the Jewish Sabbath which begins Friday night."

This is something KDE hasn't handled up to now, resulting in calendar widgets that often didn't draw the weekend properly for the users locale.  Another issue was the day of religious worship was tied to the calendar system, which caused issues for users in countries that use the Gregorian calendar but whose day of worship is not Sunday (e.g. Turkey, Israel, etc).

So I've added three new settings to KLocale in 4.2 to address this:

WorkingWeekStartDay - Defults to Monday
WorkingWeekEndDay - Defaults to Friday
WeekDayOfPray - Defaults to Sunday

Those locales that don't use the defaults can now set these values up correctly, and individuals can choose to override the settings for their locale in the Region/Date KCM.  The kdelibs KDateTable widget now obeys these settings when drawing the weekend header and red-letters the day of worship, and I'm working on the kdepim widget too.

I haven't updated any of the actual i18n settings files yet, so this is a call-out to the i18n and l10n people who are better placed than I to know which locales need updating to either commit the updates themselves, or e-mail me with the required details and a definitive reference for me to confirm the details against.  I will try work through the list myself at some stage, but any help is appreciated.

Something we're thinking about for 4.3 is also showing the locales public holidays in the kdelibs calendar widget like the kdepim widget does, but there's a few things to address before that happens.  Part of this will be proper support for astronomically based calendar systems.

Back again...

Well, it's been a while since I blogged properly, but life has been incredibly busy and complicated these last few months.  On the personal side, I've restarted uni doing some archaeology courses, had my parents visiting from NZ for 6 weeks, worked some silly hours, done some travelling around Europe and the UK, and utterly failed to find somewhere permanent to live.  On the hacking side, I've had 2 laptops die on me, my web host lock me out, a dead slow net connection, and just a general lack of time to do the stuff I want.

However, there's finally some light at the end of the tunnel time wise, I've fixed my website, and I've splashed out to buy myself a new laptop.  My 5-year old Dell had reached the stage where anything slightly taxing like surfing the net or reading e-mails would send the fan into overdrive, compiling a 1-line change to kdelibs would take 5 hours, one of the memory modules died completely, and the case cracks were threatening to separate the screen from the body.  It's taken a while to find a replacement that met my requirements during which I made do first with an eee 701, then when it died with an eee 901, but finally after evaluating the new Sony Vaio Z, I settled on the brand-new Aluminium Macbook.

I've had the Mac for a few weeks now, and while it is a beautiful piece of kit, there are some annoying features.

Pros:
* Aluminium body feels wonderfully solid and unlikely to break
* Backlit keyboard
* Huge touchpad
* Mag power cord
* Faaaasssttttt :-)

Cons:
* No manual CD eject button
* No Insert/Delete/Page Up/Page Down/Print Screen/Hash keys, and a tiny enter key
* The screen is way too glossy and has narrow viewing angles
* USB ports too close together
* Lack of expansion slots

Right now, I've just finished upgrading to a 500Gb HDD on which I am installing the ultimate Hackintosh system, triple-booting OS X, Windows XP, and OpenSuse 11.1 beta 5.  I plan to compile KDE trunk in all three installs as I get time, so if there's something you want tested cross-platform I may be able to oblige.

I've a backlog of subjects I want to blog about, so I'll be boring you on a regular basis over the next few days :-)

Live from Linux Live Expo

Hello from the Linux Live Expo at Olympia in London, where Team KDE is currently locked in a death-match stuggle with the Gnome  guys for the attention of the few passers-by.  I'd guess the current ratio of Booth-Blokes to punters is about 5 to 1, so any poor soul who so much as glances in our direction is quickly lept upon and dragged to their inevitable fate: having to endur a five-minute demo of Fluffy Bunnies, KDE-on-Mac, and Marble world domination :-)  Trauma counselling is offered afterwards by the Heaven Sent massage angels across the aisle...

Team KDE at Linux Live ExpoTeam KDE at Linux Live Expo

May Day in London - Exercising my democratic right

Strange experience today, I got to vote in an election in my third different country.  I get to vote in New Zealand by right of birth, in Australia by right of citizenship through residency and parentage, and now in the UK local elections through residency.  The weird part was that there was only one polling station that I was allowed to vote at, and because I no longer live near where I'm registered it involved an hour and a half round trip just to exercise my right.  There appeared to be no way for people to vote away from their designated polling station (at least so I was told when I initially turned up at my nearest one), effectively depriving many people of their right to vote.  No wonder the turn-out is so low.  My choice of political colour is not as strong over here as back home, but hopefully my effort to put one more cross in their box helps get them a louder voice.

Easter progress on printng

Well it's Easter, and rather than being somewhere warm or interesting (or both), I'm stuck here in cold and wet London. This is partly due to my own lack of organisation, but also due to some dodgy fraudster types who managed to clone my debit card and withdraw large sums of my cash from an ATM in Tunisia (I haven't even been there!). Ironic really, given the number of banking security projects I've worked on :-) Well the cash has been refunded, I've been waiting two weeks for the replacement card to arrive, and without easy access to cash I'm reluctant to board a plane or train to anywhere, let alone even being able to book anything online. The one consolation is that I've actually been able to watch it snow in London, a rare occurrence.

So what's a geek to do on a miserable long weekend when he's trapped at home? No surprises really :-) I've been busy lately with The Real World with concerts and gigs and parties and work and starting on one of my irregular get-fit-quick kicks and so haven't had much time to spare for the promised work on KDE printing. So this weekend I've mostly devoted myself to sorting it out. It helps too that my landlady is away for the weekend and so hasn't been gently chiding me that a "young" man such as myself really should be outside enjoying myself more instead of being chained to this laptop :-)

I've been slowly reviewing the Qt4.4 printing system over the last few weeks to see what new stuff has made it, what hasn't, and what we still need / can provide in KDE4.1. Below I've detailed a list of what was missing in Qt4.3, where it's at in Qt4.4, and made some decisions on what we can do in KDE4.1, what we need to request for Qt4.5, and what I don't have a clue on. My initial aim is to work on the application side of things (i.e. the print dialog), before moving on to the printer management side.

So here's the first results of my efforts extending QPrintDialog:

Qt 4.4 - Print Dialog - Cups Pages options: KDE specific CUPS Page Options added to QPrintDialogQt 4.4 - Print Dialog - Cups Pages options: KDE specific CUPS Page Options added to QPrintDialog

Yes, that's full support for n-up printing, page borders, banner pages, and page mirroring using CUPS on *nix. The tab is an entirely self-contained private widget added to the QPrintDialog by the KdePrint::createPrintDIalog() method, and not part of the public API. There's quite a bit of polishing to do (pretty icons, layout, etc), but it all works. Suggestions welcome of course :-)

There's two problems here, the first being that Qt doesn't initialise the list of CUPS Options until after the QPrintDialog signals Accepted(), so I can't make the tab dynamically update the settings itself. Instead, the app programmer needs to make a call to KdePrint::setupPrinter() after the QPrintDialog exec() returns, which while not the most elegant of solutions is not too onerous seeing as they already have to call KdePrint::createPrintDialog() to start with.

The second and major problem that is I can't tell at runtime when Qt is using CUPS for printing and when it has had to fall back to LPR. Obviously, we don't want to be showing these CUPS Options if they won't work, but the new Qt QPrinterInfo class unfortunately doesn't tell us if a printer uses CUPS or LPR. We aso need to know the CUPS version so we can add/remove version-dependent features. I also need to know this in FilePrinter. It's the one thing I can see that we _must_ have in Qt4.4, so I'll try requesting Trolltech add it before the RC comes out (not much time left, so fingers crossed).

Next step is to add another tab for the Job Scheduling and user added CUPS Options, then I'll move onto FilePrinter, and look at KStandardActions for Print to E-mail and Print to Fax, before returning to the Printer Management side of things. I see riddell has proposed an alternative python based system, I'll try do a feature compare on them to see if it's a direction worth going.

For those interested, the magic code to add extra CUPS options to QPrinter is as follows, and can be used by any app to set anything they like after calling exec() on the QPrintDialog:


void setCupsOption( QPrinter *printer, const QString option, const QString value )
{
    QStringList cupsOptions = printer->printEngine()->property(QPrintEngine::PrintEnginePropertyKey(0xfe00)).toStringList();
    if ( cupsOptions.contains( option ) ) {
        cupsOptions.replace( cupsOptions.indexOf( option ) + 1, value );
    } else {
        cupsOptions.append( option );
        cupsOptions.append( value );
    }
    printer->printEngine()->setProperty(QPrintEngine::PrintEnginePropertyKey(0xfe00), QVariant(cupsOptions));
}

KDEPrint3 vs Qt4.3 vs Qt4.4

 * = available in Qt4.4
 x = not available in Qt4.4, not to be added in KDE4.1
 + = not available in Qt4.4, support to be added in KDE4.1
 ? for unknown or incomplete support

Usability and General improvements:

 * Drag QPrintDialog into the 21st century :-)
 * Applications able to add custom tabs to dialog
 * Selection of Print to File through Printer combo instead of knowing to type .ps/.pdf
 ? Use KFileDialog when selecting destination for Print To File
 ? Printer / Print System Infomation
 x Printer PPD options dialog improved
 x Special / Virtual Printers in Printer selction combo (i.e. fax/e-mail)
 x Persistance of settings

Advanced page range selection:

 x Non-continuous page ranges
 x Current Page
 x Page set All/Odd/Even Pages
 x QList pageList() method

Advanced page manipulation

 * Duplex Long-edge / Short-edge
 * Custom margins
 + N-Up Printing
 + Banner Printing
 x Reverse Landscape / Reverse Portrait
 x Pamphlet printing
 x Poster printing

Advanced Options:

 * API Read access to Cups options selected in dialog preferences
 */+ API/GUI write access to add extra Cups options
 + Job scheduling
 x Apply filters to output file
 x File printing

Notes:

N-up / Banner / Job scheduling : I'm adding these to KDE4.1 as *nix / CUPS only options.

Use KFileDialog : ThomasZ mentioned this is now possible, need to check with him how.

Advanced Print Range Selection and Reverse Landscape/Portrait: I could add these in KDE4.1 for CUPS only, but the UI and API would just be too awkward, and it's far better to work at having them natively supported cross-platform in Qt 4.5.

Persistance Of Settings : Apps can still manually persist most settings, but KDEPrint made it far less work. Open question, perhaps a couple of KdePrint methods to save/restore all settings.

Printer / Print System Info : Cool new API for this, but could expose more info, primarily we need to know if using CUPS or LPR, and what version of CUPS.

PPD Options Dialog : Works OK, but is not obvious to newbie how you can actually change the settings, and doesn't size properly. One for Qt4.5.

Apply Filters (which gave us pamplet/poster printing): Personally I think pamphlet and poster printing should be supported inside CUPS, but there are other possible uses for filters so the whole issue is an open one. I do see the kprinter utility being resurrected in kdebase or extragear as say KPrintShop using the old KDEPrint engines and dialog as a *nix only solution. Sure, it becomes a 2 step process of Print to PDF then run KPrintShop, but it's better than nothing.

File Printing: I'll be working on improving the interim *nix-only code I wrote for Okular, but it's another open question. I'll be adding support for all options chosen in the dialog, and proper CUPS support, and looking at moving to kdelibs. I really don't see a cross-platform solution any time soon (yes we could use gv, but really...). [Note to self, follow up Alex's suggestion to see how Scribus copes with cross-platform PDF printing]

Add Special / Virtual Printers : I personally see Export to Fax and Export to E-Mail better implemented as KStandardActions selected from the File menu due to being more user discoverable, but that does require every app to decide if they want to add them or not, whereas having it in the print dialog is universal. The actions could launch a reduced functionality QPrintDialog and use the setOutputProgam() method to set the destination program, but I don't think Qt provides the flexability to do this properly (can't block/hide all invalid options, only works for PS output, etc). Instead, in the background a PDF or PS file would be printed and then the file sent to the required program (i.e. as KPrintPreview does). The drawback here is the user will not be able to choose valid options like page ranges, but a simple private dialog could provide this.

P.S. Why does TinyMCE keep stripping the whitespace from my pre marked code and throwing away the code tag??? Apologies if the layout goes nuts again.

Qt 4.4 Print Dialog - Follow Up

Just a quick follow-up to some of the comments in my last blog:

* No, this is not my work, it's all the trolls, so i can't take credit or change anything in it

* Remember, this is still pre-beta code I'm running, so not everything may have been finished or polished yet, such as pretty icons showing what the options do.

* There's a new Print Preview framework, including widgets and dialogs that haven't had time to play with yet.

* The reason there's is so much 'wasted' space in the Copies tab I showed is due to the dialog resizing to fit the KWrite added tabs, as proof here's the 'pure' Qt dialog without any KDE added tabs:

Qt 4.4 - Print Dialog - PureQt 4.4 - Print Dialog - Pure

There were a couple of good points that I'll try pass on:

* Yes, more pretty icons would be good

* Showing the printer status with an icon next to the name in the combo box, or text directly below the combo box would be useful

Speaking of the combo box, I forgot to show another KDE3 inspired improvement with choosing Print to File:

Qt 4.4 - Print Dialog - FileQt 4.4 - Print Dialog - File

I hope we eventually get an API to add our own options in there (Print to Fax, etc).

Next time, I hope to have a proof-of-concept of adding Cups n-up printing.

More musings on printing in 4.1

I've been poking around in the Qt 4.4 printing code trying to get a better understanding on how it all hangs together, with on eye on how to extend it in KDE 4.1 to meet our requirements. What follows is more a late-night brain dump of a couple of ideas to remind me later what I'm thinking, or to enable others to do it if I don't. I'll flesh it out later in the wiki.

We lost a number of popular user features in the switch from KDEPrint to Qt Printing, such as 2-up, banners, scheduled printng, etc (just open the KDE3 print dialog and compare the available options to the KDE4/Qt4 version to see). While Qt 4.4 has an API to add extra tabs to QPrintDialog to provide the GUI for restoring these features (*nix only), many features will depend on setting advanced CUPS options (2-up, scheduled printing, etc), and I had been wondering how to get QPrinter to do that when there is no documented API to do so.

However, if I'm reading the code right, the Qt CUPS/PDF QPrintEngine sub-class extends the base QPrintEngine::PrintEnginePropertyKey enum to include PPK_CupsOptions, a list of the Cups Options for the PPD Properties set in the Print Dialog. These options then get passed to CUPS at print time. We may be able to use the QPrintEngine API to add any extra CUPS options we want after the Print Dialog closes, but I need to test to confirm. I can definitely use this in the FilePrinter utility to read the PPD Properties so they actually get respected, a major failing in FilePrinter at the moment.

If this does work, it also provides a way that we could re-introduce our own KPrintDialog again if we need to, while still using QPrinter to talk to CUPS (although the cross-platform issue would then then crop up again if we didn't inherit from QAbstractPrintDialog?).

Talking of FilePrinter, while I plan to re-implement it in 4.1 as part of kdelibs to talk directly to CUPS and thus solve many of its shortcomings, a more elegant method might be to do so as a QPrintEngine. QPrinter embeds a QPrintEngine which abstracts and implements the actual painting/printing routines for the current platform, so there's engines for Mac, Win, CUPS/PDF, and lpr/PS. It also allows you to implement your own print engines, so in theory that's a way to support say RLPR or LPRng if there were demand. It wouldn't take much re-working to fit FilePrinter to this model, no painting code would actually be needed, just a new Print Engine Property for PPK_PrintSourceFile, and some code to pass the file to CUPS or lp/lpr. Now, if only the Trolls could implement this themselves, they could use their existing internal CUPS/lpr classes or code, provide a more seamless API, and save me the effort :-)

I'd like to make FilePrinter cross platform, but while I believe Mac would be easy, the only solution I know so far for Windows would be forcing the users to install Ghostscript and using that to convert the PDF or PS files to the Windows printing format. Lower priority for now.

So, once I have a more permanent roof over my head and get my printer back, I'm going to make a start on porting as many of the old KPrintDialog features over to QPrinter/QPrintDialog as possible. With regard to KDEPrint itself and the Admin features, I see no point in trying to get a version done for 4.0. Instead we should move straight on to stripping down and re-factoring KDEPrint into a more targetted set of admin tools. The famous kprinter command line utility and kdeprintfax would get separated off to be based on QPrinter/QPrintDialog. The remaining backend code would get cleaned up, namespaced, and concentrated on supporting CUPS and lpr admin, with the KCM, Add Printer Wizard, and Job Viewer being the main targets.

Yawn! To bed...

A new member of the family...

Today my birthday AND Christmas came early with not one but two new toys arriving in the mailbox, which has left me a very happy little geek boy.

The first is a new lens for my Pentax K10D DSLR, a Tamron 18-250 super zoom to use as a walk-around / travel lens. I've been putting up with the kit 17-55mm lens for too long and finally had to splash out to extend my range. With the 1.5 times multiplier effect, that's equivalent to 27-375mm, so no excuses now for not getting those close-up details I like.

The second is that eigth wonder of the technology age, the ASUS Eee. For those who haven't heard of it before, it's a sub-notebook with a 7 inch
screen, 900Mhz Celeron CPU, 4Gb flash drive in place of the usual hard drive, 512Mb RAM,
wireless, and no CD drive. It weighs less than 1kg, and only costs
£220. You can see what it looks like in my gallery. Actually, "sub" doesn't do this little beauty justice, try sub-ultra-nano-micro-pico-femto-notebook for size. I knew it was small, but I was still shocked when I opened the box to see just how tiny it is. It was a real geek-magnet at work when it arrived, even the hardware guys who are currently trialling all the cool new tablets.

Some random notes:

  • I got the black model which has a textured matt finish similar to a Thinkpad, but my sweaty fingers still leave faint marks.
  • The power adaptor is little larger than a mobile phone one, and has a changable travel adaptor head, a nice small touch.
  • The hinges are very sturdy, far better than my old Dell
  • It boots in aboout 15 seconds
  • Everything Just Works
  • OpenOffice starts faster than I expected, only 10 seconds, but I still want KOffice
  • The 4Gb flash drive is partitioned into a 2.3Gb read-only system partion and a 1.4Gb read-write data partition, and uses unionfs for 'updates' to the system. This means all the drive-based restore function has to do is wipe the second partition, which could be convenient if you have to support hundreds of these in a school environment.
  • There's no Linux restore CD, instead you run the driver CD under Windows which sets up a USB memory stick as the restore media.
  • A single USB port outputs enough power to run my external drive, unlike my Dell that needs 2 ports.
  • The 800x480 screen is OK, but a higher resolution would be better as some things don't quite fit. It has a slight white light leak at the bottom, but no dead pixels.
  • The keyboard is small, and my fingers are fat, but 1 finger typing is fine, and with a little practise I should be able to fit a couple more fingers in there. The feel is actually firmer and less wobbly than my Dell.
  • The touchpad is tiny, and appears to randomly forget its sensitivity setting. I'll think I'll get a bluetooth mouse.
  • The webcam does a reasonable job, I'l upgrade Skype to the video beta to see how well that works.
  • There's an unused modem socket, perhaps in the fabled 8Gb version?
  • It has a Voice Command feature, for example saying "Computer Web" launches Firefox. Well, it should but it doesn't cope with my Kiwi accent. The perfectly plummy public school accent of the guy next to me at work has no such problems...
  • There's an online BIOS update facility.
  • It comes with Anti-Virus installed.
  • The default kernel is only compiled to support 1Gb of RAM, but the slot will take 2Gb.
  • The tabbed interface is very well executed, and does a good job for its target audiance, but it's not for me long term :-)

I'll play with the default Xandros install for a few days, but as soon as I can I'll be wiping it to install another distro and see just how well KDE4 copes with such a low screen resolution screen. I'll also then be able to crack the case and upgrade to 2Gb RAM.

Now, I'm suddenly tempted to get a 3G Bluetooth phone and a data plan so I have internet anywhere I go.

All Blacks vs Scotland in Edinburgh

Hey, so its been a while since I blogged last, so what better way to start again than to fill you all in on my trip to Edinburgh to see the mighty All Blacks play the feisty Scots. If you can't be bothered with the words, you can skip straight to the pictures, but I'll apologise in advance for the poor quality, it's hard to get good shots when you're in the middle of a jostling crowd with the camera above your head and you've left your long lens at home...

For those of you not in the Rugby playing parts of the world, the Rugby World Cup is currently on in France, so obviously I had to go to Scotland to see NZ play (that's rugby politics for ya...), so I made a weekend of it. I left booking rather late, so it was a cobbled together itinerary of flying to Glasgow Friday afternoon (cheapest way up), staying in Glasgow (as Edinburgh was full), and catching the train back from Edinburgh Monday morning (as I booked it before I found out Edinburgh was full, and they wouldn't let me change it). I'm actually writing this on the train back, much delayed due to a "bridge incident" whatever the hell that means. Don't get me started on bloody Ryanair, they're a joke masquerading as an airline...

Anyhow's Friday night was spent in the salubrious surrounds of the Walkabout pub in Glasgow, a safe haven of Antipodeans, Irish and Frenchies to watch the France/Ireland game (I say safe as I witnessed 2 fights on the street just on my way there...). While the game itself was no great shakes, the 70-something year old French couple were worth the price of admission for their enthusiastic support of their team. We Kiwis hung back and shook our heads while quietly sizing up our chances in Cardiff. On my way back to the hotel afterwards down a gloomy back street I was accosted by 3 Glaswegian lads who were intent on finding out if I knew who some bloke called Nakimora was. Now, I happen to know he's a striker for Celtic or Rangers (dunno which), and they were obviously fishing to see which side I was on, but I wasn't about to give them any excuse to have a crack at me, so once again the dumb tourist routine came in handy, eventually they realised I was a "Rugger" and let me pass.

Saturday I jumped on the train over to Edinburgh to pick up my ticket, have yet another look around the town (I've been twice before so didn't bother with the castle yet again), and do the required souvenir shopping (who was wanting haggis again?). Thing is, if it wasn't for the abundance of AB's jerseys walking the streets, you would barely have known there was a game on. They certainly didn't go to any efforts to help people find their way to Murrayfield or the ticket office. On the up side, there were so many Kiwis about wearing the black you could have been forgiven for thinking you were actually in Dunedin for a test weekend. Once the practicalities were out of the way, I searched out a pub to watch the NZ B team, I mean Samoa, take on the Poms. Now, I was expecting a mix of Kiwis and Scots baying for English blood, well the Kiwis were there in force and fine voice alright, but instead of the Scots I found myself surrounded by Englishmen. Fortunately, they were from Wigan, so they were of the friendly League-preferring Northern variety who are always a pleasure to chat with. In fact, they were more than happy to slag off their own team (soft Southerners), so all I had to do was sit back and be gracious about their compliments on the AB's while fending off the occasional 'chokers' gibe. It's just a shame Samoa couldn't quite keep their end up.

Finally Sunday came, and I donned my shiny new AB's jersey and headed down to the railway station, only to discover several hundred other Kiwis all doing likewise, mingled in with several hundred Celtic supporters also off to Edinburgh for some silly game of soccer. Do you think the railways thought to put on extra trains??? In between several rounds of Sardines, I had the chance to chat with the Scotland fans, all resigned to their imminent defeat, but going along for the experience anyway. Their biggest complaint was how expensive the tickets were (mine was £150/NZ$450) and how the Scots had devalued the game by naming a second string team. After finally finding somewhere for brunch (not many food places were open, but the pubs were booming) I followed the flood of black down Princes street towards Murrayfield. It's not until you come to an AB's test in Europe that you realise just how international a 'brand' the AB's are, how powerful that All Blacks legend is. In between the usual Saffie, Aussie, English, Welsh, French, and Irish who all seem to have the AB's as their 2nd favourites, there were groups from Chile, The Netherlands (in bright orange 'All Dutch' shirts), Japan, Italy (I never knew the Pope was a fan), and most bizarrely an invading German horde. Even those wearing the black had some very un-kiwi accents. Everyone happily mingled around the gates, relaxing on the grass, while waiting for them to open, while the Scots all commented on how you could never do this with the local Football fans...

Once the gates opened, I fought my way past the souvenir sellers (radios, programmes, Scottish flags...) and found my way to my seat, a fantastic spot on the 22m line in the third row, I was cursing myself that I'd left my zoom lens behind. Staring at an empty field soon got boring so I headed outside just in time to fight my way to near the front of the crowd by the players entrance waiting for the AB's to arrive. The boys looked appropriately subdued and intense, not that they really needed to be. I then wandered back into the stadium in time to see them wander out onto the pitch for the warm-up. Noticing there was no security between my section and the team areas, I wandered over, elbowed my way past the autograph hunters, leaned over the edge of the tunnel and started snapping. Man, that's go to be the closest I've ever been to the guys (except that time I met the legendary Michael Jones, but that's another story) it certainly added an extra buzz to the anticipation. Finally security decided they wanted to reclaim the team's seats and shooed us off.

I won't bore you too much with the game itself, I'm sure most of you saw it, other than to express my disappointment at the lack of discipline in execution, as with all our pool games so far it was more like the Poneke under 7's with everyone tripping over themselves lining up to be the next to score a try. Of course, it didn't really help that Scotland didn't really turn up either. At least I got a good view of some of the AB's scoring action. I guess that the proportion of AB fans to Scots was about 2/3rds or 3/4's, we had them beat on the cheering stakes too.

The Scots weren't much better organised on the homeward leg, 60,000 fans flooding the streets and not a cop in sight to direct them, we just took over the entire main road through Edinburgh and caused an hour long gridlock. The trapped drivers were not happy, I can tell you. I had planned to head to a pub in Edinburgh after the game, but decided that there could be a long queue for the train and so headed for that instead. More fool me, as they had finally laid on extra carriages and the trip back was not a problem. By the time I got to Glasgow it was totally dead so I headed for my hotel and bed, seeing as I would have an early start to make my train.

So thats it really, except now I have this crazy urge to go to the Cardiff quarter final as well...

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