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!

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I Have Officially Bitten The Bullet!

For a little while now I’ve had a niggling doubt about my X-Fi. Not to do with its performance, it’s a GREAT player, but for its ease of connectivity.

See, I live in a Mac/Linux house. All forms of Microsoft and/or Windows are banned in this household (my choice, along with Em’s).

When buying the X-Fi I knew I was taking a gamble with connectivity. When it connects to a PC (and when I say PC, I mean PERSONAL COMPUTER – PC does NOT equal WINDOWS based OS computers!) or laptop/netbook, the X-Fi wants to connect using Creative’s Centrale` software, which is Windows specific. Us non Windows based PC users have to use MTP software to try and have the X-Fi be seen by the non-native software.

This hasn’t been the most successful undertaking. In the early days of owning my X-Fi, it seemed to work, but then I just ended up having endless connection problems (the software would see the X-Fi, but the X-Fi would crash, etc) and resorted to putting things on an SD card. Only problem with that is the SD card doesn’t integrate with the X-Fi, so the music on the SD card doesn’t get played in shuffle mode, for example. And you can’t load songs from the SD card on to the player! A real pig.

I’ve sort of come to the end of my tether with this and have now decided to get an iPod Classic 120GB player. I’m able to get it on a “buy now, pay July 2010” offer. So I’ve gone for it. It arrives tomorrow and I’m a little excited. Reserved excitement – which is RARE for me!

I tossed up SO much between the X-Fi and the iPod at the time I was initially looking to buy into a substantial MP3 player purchase. The price difference swayed me, backed with some negative feedback Apple gets for its prized player.

I’ve gone for the Classic as it offers SSOO much space! One of the bonuses I thought appealed with the X-Fi was its expansion slot for SD cards. But non integration makes it a help AND a hindrance. I’m sure the 120GB space I’ll get with the iPod will take a LONG time to fill, and also the fact that I actually HAVE a Mac will make file transfers so much more straight forward (I am REALLY hoping!).

So, I’ll let you know how I get on in days to come.

I fell like SUCH a lemming for finally relenting and buying into the iPod phenomenon. As much as I love Apple products, many can be a bit too “style over substance”, but we’ll see. I hope I’ll be eating my words in the next 48 hours.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeazy.

I’ve spent the last 24 hours using a different version of Linux on my netbook that runs “live” from an SD card. It’s a version of Ubuntu for netbooks called Easy Peasy. It’s more meant for the EEEPC, but seems to be working just as well for my netbook.

I sometimes get a little tired of the “kiddie” interface of the Aspire One OS, which is based on Linpus and does look a bit candy store.

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It starts up like lightening, but adding software (even with an IT pro at your side) can be a bit of a bum. The first thing I loved about the Ubuntu version was fab games! I’m easily pleased!! lol

I like the look if it. The desktop is still not conventional, but at least it doesn’t look like it’s aimed at a 8 year old.

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The other part I initially liked was being able to install Adobe Air and use TweetDeck for twitter, thinking that I’d LOVE to use TweetDeck, as everyone else seems to use it. But I don’t really get on with that. I’ve got Spotify installed on here, and I can see thing attached to Wine in a clearer way too.

Pros and cons, pros and cons. Takes a while for the desktop to be up and running and it’s changed my keyboard around slightly, so my quotation makes are where my @ symbol is, and vice versa. Will just take a little brain retrain.

It’s not on permanently yet and I will make sure I give it some more testing before I decide to install fully. I’ll keep you informed.

Update: 10pm

I’ve installed it fully on the system. Had a few little teething probs. After it seemingly being the same, my keyboard (since doing some system updates) has been sorted and my @ and “‘s are in the right place again. Installed Spotify again, but was getting digital interference/cut-outs, which was making me think “uh oh! Maybe I rushed the install”. But all it required was a small change to the Wine audio settings. A click there and an unclick there and it was sorted, and the sound is now crystal.

So far, so good. I’m really getting into Easy Peasy version Ubuntu.
For more info check the Easy Peasy wiki page by clicking here.