Dark Sky App – the only app worth buying

Dark Sky's radarDark Sky is one of the few apps I use that I rely on. I’ve used it most days for over a year; it cost £2.49, a princely sum for a mobile app, but has paid for itself time and time again in predicting when it’s going to rain and for how long.

I first came across it on an up-and-comers piece in the New York Times, or possibly the Washington Post, last year. It was claimed by several reviewers that for quick trips on foot, when you weren’t sure if the heavens were about to release a month’s rainfall in seven minutes, it predicted the likelihood with uncanny accuracy. And saved you from getting absolutely rodded with rain.

Bollocks, I thought. If the iPhone has taught us anything, it is that we love weather and love knowing what might happen with it in the next day, 48 hours or two weeks. There are an avalanche of near-pointless weather apps in the App Store, so many that developers have taken a zen approach of minimalistic design in order to distinguish themselves from one another, dispensing entirely with numbers and icons and simply using colours to reflect the conditions. Cute, but pointless. I assumed this app was another fabled attempt to beautify the mundanity of weather by employing an overpaid UX agency twerp with horizontal hair and purple, skinny jeans.

But Dark Sky doesn’t attempt to forecast miles into the future – just as well because even in 2014, this is the darkest of scientific arts. It looks ahead by 24 hours and shows you where the rain currently is, on a map – a normal map with contours and boundaries and not coloured shades of blue and green and purple. It then animates where the rain is likely to be, and using your brain you can see whether it’s going to hit you or not. Or, in my case, whether it’s going to screw up my day’s cricket (I used to use rainradar.co.uk for this, as do most cricket journalists, but Dark Sky is infinitely more accurate and useful).

Dark Sky

Their latest update is out today and it makes an invaluable app now beautiful, along with temperature displays and other neat additions such as finding out where the nearest storm is relative to your location. The more you zoom out, to see the country as a whole, the further back in time you can “view” how grizzly the weather has been. And if it’s about to wazz down near you in the next 20 minutes or so, you’ll be notified.

This will probably be the only geeky app-love post I write this year, as most of the others I use add little but stress and annoyance to my life, but Dark Sky is the absolute bomb – especially for a country mesmerised by the gloomy grey blanket above our heads.

Rain, rain, go away.

Keep track of the rain in Sydney with the Sydney area radar.

The plot (and the humidity) thickens

The second Test here in Adelaide has had an interesting prelude with the news that Glenn McGrath will need a fitness test in the morning. It appears that his troublesome heel isn’t getting better and there must be doubts as to whether or not he is fit enough to last five days.

Faster then you can say ‘Mitchell Johnson’, the English writers are reminding us of Edgbaston. Certainly, removing McGrath from the game goes some way to making it an even contest, but that won’t help England’s bowlers take 20 wickets.

What might help though is that about 4pm this afternoon a sudden downpour hit the city of Adelaide. I was about a mile from Adelaide Oval when it struck, and if the pitch was uncovered when it happened, it will have had an effect on it. It was not very long, but it was enough to put a dampener on the Oval (and me).

The recent hot spell that has been engulfing Adelaide will now subside, and players should enjoy almost perfect weather conditions to play in, without the enervating heat of Brisbane, and there might be more humidity then at Brisbane as well. So the fates are turning ever so slightly in England’s favour. The question that remains is, are they good enough to seize the moment?

England fight back, and some thoughts on coaches

To the audible relief of South Australian cricket administrators, England provided some much needed resistance on day four, and saved them the prospect of half-empty stands for the Second Test starting on Friday.

England were set an insane target, worked out by Ricky Ponting on the formula of multiplying my overdraft times the speed of light, or some such nonsense, and let his bowlers loose, while retiring to the massage table. He would have dined well as England lost two early wickets, and with Cook playing a range of loose shots, promise of more to come.

However, Pieterson and Collingwood provided stout resistance and some fiery entertainment for another large crowd, stated as being 37,000.

Yet England will surely lose, and they deserve to lose- while there was some magnificent batsmanship today, there was also some shameful episodes. Strauss, Cook, Collingwood, Flintoff and Pieterson were all guilty of some dreadful shot selection at various points in the day, treating an Ashes Test as little more then a knockabout in the park.

Pieterson’s innings was an instructive example. There was some lovely drives, all through the V, yet there were also some grotesque cross-bat swipes. None of these have cost him his wicket (as yet), but what happens if rain comes about three PM tomorrow and England have been bowled out at 2.35?

If England had batted with a slightly more applied approach, they might well have been three wickets down tonight, not five. That’s a big difference.

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What do readers think about Andrew Flintoff’s dismissal? Shane Warne gave him an ugly serve on his way, and Justin Langer was smiling in delight even before he took the catch; the arrogance of it will grate on English sensibilities.

But it is an arrogance reflective of an Australian team that knows the value of their wickets, and the absolute folly of Flintoff’s shot. I don’t recall Ricky Ponting playing such an agricultural heave during his defensive masterpiece at Old Trafford last year. Duncan Fletcher may or may not remind his charges of that innings between now and the morning.

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Speaking of coaches, I came across this article on my web-meanderings this evening, asking about the worth of overseas coaches. Given the kvetching about Duncan Fletcher that I’ve read in British media outlets the last few days, I wondered about the role of the coach.

It seems to me that for a coach to be a benefit, rather then a hindrance, there needs to be an absolute understanding between the coach and his captain. In many first class teams, it seems to be the increasing trend that the coach is the top banana and the captain merely his on-field lieutenant, rather in the way a football manager operates. That may work, but there does need to be a clear line driven, and both sides working in tandem.

It’s never been the Australian way. Would you fancy being the coach telling Steve Waugh how he was to arrange his batting order? John Buchanan always knew his place in Waugh’s order of things.

I’m not sure about the inner workings of England’s team, but Michael Vaughan and Duncan Fletcher certainly were working on the same wavelength. It may well be that the relationship between Fletcher and Andrew Flintoff isn’t quite so attune.

A day for umbrellas

Someone needs to find Chris Adams and ensure that he is in no way performing any kind of rain dance. After a morning deluge washed out Thursday’s play at Old Trafford as well as Edgbaston, Lancashire’s chances of staying level in the title race are becoming faint. With Sussex sitting out this week’s round, they have been unhampered by the bad weather. Mark Chilton’s men, on the other hand, have now suffered two games running, with good performances against Warwickshire going to waste for the same reason. Requiring maximum bonus points and victory to grab top spot, they have only taken four Durham wickets, and are running out of time.

At the other end of the table, Yorkshire will also be rueing the lack of play in today’s Division One matches. With their two remaining bats skittled in what little action they saw at Headingley, the win Craig White’s side desperately need will be a hard task. The last thing they will want to see is third from bottom Durham holding on for a draw, especially as they will be playing each other next week. Maybe they will take some heart from the fact the only Harmison they will face will be batsman Ben – his older brother has been ruled out as a precaution.

England v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Lord’s, 5th day

Live cricket

Live chat of the first Test between England and Sri Lanka

I don’t suspect many actually care about this Test any longer but…chat away if you do. It’s raining in SW13……

Jason Gillespie Tribute Post

Well, every dog will have his day but not every night-watchman gets his century! He resumes today on his birthday on 102 not out, and who knows what else is possible if he goes the tonk! (has a slog, for those of you not fluent in Australian).

Osman Samiuddin calls Gillespie the tailender who isn’t. Malcolm Conn noted his discreet celebrations and Nabila Ahmed called him resurgent. Rick Eyre notes a historical fact.

Anyone want to tip what his final score will be? I’ll guess 126. Mike Hussey meanwhile could get anything. Although a declaration might not be far away if it rains.

A Barmy Englishman in India

Phil Long is with the Barmy Army and he wrote an account of the riot at Gawahati for the BBC.

I’m not sure what sparked off the initial trouble but certainly where I was perched it wasn’t the result of any tannoy announcement as there simply hadn’t been any.

Only when the first advertising hoardings were being ripped from their frames to be used as material for the on-terrace fires that followed was a plea of ‘Please be patient’ made – and ignored.

After that, the whole thing snowballed and although I later found out that some injuries occurred I never felt in any particular danger.

 

This feeling was reinforced by the local police who instead of tackling the trouble head on found it inconveniently coincided with their lunch break.

So we witnessed the somewhat surreal sight of the local constabulary munching contentedly on their lunch as chaos ruled around them.

I don’t think there was anything particularly sinister about the riot. Just the locals were extremely peeved about not seeing any cricket. Sadly, rain interruptions and soaked outfields are just as much a part of the game as reverse swing and cover drives. Anyway, it was a very interesting read by Phil Long.

England avoid 7-0 humiliation

“Seven nil, seven nil, seven nil…seven nil” was the widely expected chant to be heard ringing from the Indians but alas they’ll have to settle for 6-0. That’s assuming England don’t win the sixth or seventh one-dayer, which is a perfectly reasonable assumption. Yes, today, England avoided defeat thanks to perfect English conditions which suited their one-day game to a tea.

Not a ball was bowled thanks to the rain.

No play at Centurion

Spitting rain, on and off, at Centurion so doesn’t look like there’ll be any play. Cricinfo’s take on it:

Official news from the umpires is that we are lookingat a 15:00
start
That is if the rain does not get back before that
I would put money on the rain beating the players out
Sorry to say, I am off to the bookies to fetch my money, the rain
has won and the covers come back on

Bit dodgy mentioning the Bookies word at this ground isn’t it?…:)