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!

More Trials and Tribulations!

We now have a “decent” Internet connection but I still can’t write a proper post at the Blogger site as T-Mobile (the mobile broadband) has got an adult content lock on the SIM inside the stick. Blogger is blocked FFS! That is SO stupid. I have tried unsuccessfully to remove the block. You have to either give them credit card details – which weren’t accepted, or register with t-mobile – which I can’t do because it doesn’t recognise my post code!!! The only other way is to go to a t-mobile store. What am I meant to do? Take the stick with me? It’s PATHETIC T-MOBILE!!!

Anyway, apart from that annoyance with it, the connection is quite good and relatively speedy. It’ll definitely help us through the next few days.

While I’ve been here trying to get the broadband going, Em has been at her parents’ house contacting Virgin Media (re: Internet connection/cable modem), Apple (to book a slot for an inspection of the Mac mini at an Apple store), and Acer (potential repair of my netbook). Em looked for the netbook’s particulars yesterday and despite what I had believed in my mind, the netbook is under 12 months old and therefore STILL under warranty. Yay!! Acer want us to send it to them via DHL so they can look at it. We have an appointment at the Apple store in Milton Keynes tomorrow at 1.20pm – DON’T be late they said, or you’ll lose your slot!! And Virgin have agreed to send out a new cable modem which should be with us in the next few days.

Re: the netbook. Although we will send off the netbook for potential repair, we are still going to invest in a new one, as we can get a better spec machine (still an Acer, still an Aspire One, but with 1GB of RAM instead of 512k and a 16GB SSD {hard drive for the layman} instead of 8GB in my current one). If they can repair the original, we’ll sell it on eBay.

The Mac has more life in it too than we initially thought. The OS loads and we can see the drive, but we can’t navigate around it as the USB ports seem to have died. We couldn’t see it on the monitor as it seems that the DVI connection is gone. Em put a VGA adaptor on it and linked it to the monitor and we could then see the screen. So it might just be repairable for a reasonable cost. We’ll see tomorrow, no doubt.

Anyway, here’s hoping we’ll be mostly back to normal by the end of this week.

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, 22nd July (Em’s birthday, btw), 1.00pm

I’m on PROPER. Yay!! We just received a replacement cable modem, so now we have full Internet access back.

This morning I have ordered my replacement Netbook, so hopefully that’ll be here by Friday.

We went to Milton Keynes yesterday and took the Mac to the Apple store. The motherboard would need replacing. Cost of motherboard £120, plus labour to refit = £200, but they could reduce the labour by £30, so it could be £170. Why not just quote £170 in the first place?? Anyway, Em said “Erm, I’ll think about it.” and came back with the Mac. Think we might end up getting that high spec Linux machine to replace it. At least a PC is always upgradable. It’s sort of a shame to say goodbye to the Mac mini, but for a £170 outlay, we can get a higher spec machine to replace it.

We’ve also ordered a new cable router. A bargain at £25 (compared to around £45 to replace our existing router). All the bells and whistles, good reviews, so we should be SWEET by the weekend.

The Linux PC will take a bit of time to build, but in the meantime we’ll have a new netbook and an old G4 Mac to use, so we’ll be fine. Thank goodness it’s all come good this quickly.

SAY NO TO LIGHTNING STRIKES!!! lol

Outage From Lightning

Sorry if this is looking funny or has typos. I’m using the email on my phone.

Today has been “black Friday” for us. There was a rumble of thunder and a bolt of lightning and then my netbook died. We thought initially that was it, but after an inspection it became apparent there were MORE casualties. We’ve lost the netbook, the Mac Mini, the cable modem, and the wireless router.

So we have no internet, I’ve lost my netbook, but we at least have a backup old style Mac tower.

Sky is now getting £17 a month for a Sky Player package I can’t watch. I’m back to having to listen to the cricket on the radio. Despite the weather we’ve had here, there has been play at Lords today.

Em has just gone off to catch the bus to in to her parents to contact our ISP re: loss of cable modem. I’m sure we won’t get anyone out here before Monday at the earliest. She just called me as I’m typing this to say she’d missed the bus. It never rains!

I’m sure we’ll be able to get it all back over time, but it’s not really something we need.

God damn weather!


Larelle