Who’d Have Thought Watching Cricket Could Be So Hard.

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I really wanted to watch the cricket this summer. I’m not into it much these days, but when the Ashes is on (England v Australia test series) I like to be able to watch.

Last time it was on, four years ago, I got to watch all but one test in Australia, as I was over there while most of the the series was on. The Aussies don’t have to pay anything to watch it, as it’s on Free-To-Air TV (aired on SBS).

I can’t remember what happened with the last test, but my memory is that I was able to watch the days play on TV, not have to resort to waiting for highlights in the evening. So this time I was REALLY peed off when I realised the only way I was going to be able to watch it live was to have Sky.

I couldn’t afford to commit to a 12 month contract to have Sky in the home. The minimum outlay of £35 a month was enough of a put off, but most likely it would cost around £55 a month. Just INSANE! The only other option was to use the Sky Player online. At £34 a month it was a better option. No 12 month contract, so you could use it just for one month, as it would be charged on a month by month basis. From July 1st, Sky had a special where you could have Sky Player half price in July and August. At £17 a month, that sounded a good deal.

Sky Player requires you to run a Microsoft-based Adobe Flash alternative, Silverlight. Things like YouTube and BBC’s iPlayer are flash-based – they work on Linux run machines – Silverlight doesn’t. Silverlight only runs on Windows and Mac based machines.

So, I bit the bullet and singed up. As we had a Mac, threre was a good chance it would work well. And it did. On the Mac it was good. The picture quality was nice and fluid, and there was rarely any interferance or disruption.

I got to watch the first test with a minimum of problems. Come the second test, Friday morning, day two of the second test, we suffered a lightning strike which struck some of our equipment, including the Mac. No cricket watching then.

Before this test started (the third test), we ordered a replacement machine. It’s a killer spec. which has given us a 2.66gh Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and 4GB of DDR2 RAM. But because Sky Player uses Silverlight and there is no version of the that works for Linux (I’ve installed Moonlight – but it DOESN’T work!), we are ruduced to using a version of Windows XP (it would hardly matter if it were Vista OR Windows 7). Sky Player doesn’t work properly on its “native” platform (IE: a Windows machine with Silverlight installed). Sky Player just buffers ALL the time. By comparison, on the Mac it might have buffered maybe three or four times all day. On a Windozes [sic] machine, it can buffer as much as three times in 5 minutes!!

I might have a little leeway and it might not buffer for 10 minutes – but that’s the most it’ll play continusly without trouble. Most of the time I rectifying buffers that happen every 5 mins or so, rendering it almost unwatchable.

Today, in frustration, I’ve given up. I’m just listening to the radio now.

As we came up to August 1st, I said to Em it might be best if we just cancel the Sky Player subscription as I didn’t hold out much hope to be able to watch anything if we were moving away from a Mac. I wish I had now. We might not have been able to as I think the deal with the £17 a month special was to have it for a minimum of two months, but I would have liked to have tried to cancel the account and not waste another £17.

Can I just say, Rupert Murdoch is a count! (take off the “o”)

So thank you Sky, thank you Silverlight, thank you Microsoft, but most of all, thank you lightning strike for making my summer of watching cricket a living nightmare!

ARGH!