Sky Loyalty

While I am generally happy with my Sky service, I must question Sky’s loyalty towards its existing customer base.  As a new customer you receive all manner of discounts and enticements, but once they have you – you’re merely a number.

When I received this email telling me that the manufacturer’s warranty is about to expire and that I need to spend more money insuring the equipment, it got me thinking.


Why isn’t Sky renting these boxes and including full repair coverage if they go wrong?  You’re committed to a contract with Sky – usually longer than 12 months (more like 18).

If the kit dies within that time, and the box falls outside of the manufacturer ‘s warranty (the manufacturer usually being Sky themselves – don’t forget they bought Amstrad), unless you pony up money on repairing the box or buying a brand new one at full cost, you’ll still committed to paying your subscription fee.  You just won’t get to watch TV.

With Virgin Media, while their Tivo was a big pile of steaming poop (it was slow, and the on demand service didn’t work for a good proportion of my contract (but to be fair to Virgin, they did refund me for all the trouble)), Virgin will fix any problems with the box providing you remain a customer.

So why doesn’t cover repairs and replacements?  How about upping all subscriptions by about £5/month for the length of the contract to cover any possible problems that may require an engineer to come out and replace kit?  Why does it have to go through a third party at a cost that I think is silly (£7.72/month)?

And while we’re talking about customer loyalty, I am very disappointed in Sky not allowing NOW TV subscribers tickets to their recent Game of Thrones exhibition.  Only contracted Sky customers were able to claim.

Sky had better up their game if it wants to retain its customer base.

Sky are (quite rightly – and kudos to them) using Sky Atlantic as it’s main leverage (not available outside of Sky contracts or NOW TV) – but there could always be the day in which HBO (who provide much of the programming) decide to team up with another UK cable or satellite company (BT or Virgin, for example).

When the Wind Blows?

After a fair number of years spent in the world of OS X, I’m going to return to the World of Windows.  The main reason for this that because the hardware is now exceptionally cheap (using HP kit), I can buy something to take with me on my forthcoming travels in the US (with a brief stint in Canada) that falls well below the personal allowance limit on the travel insurance.

I had considered a Chromebook – but until Google sort out pagination issues between exported Word documents, it’s no good to me.

HP Stream is HP’s answer to the Chromebook, but it runs Windows 8.1.  It only comes with 32Gb storage, 2Gb RAM and there are no indications that it’ll run Windows 10 when it’s released.

So I settled on a low-end HP Pavilion with 8Gb RAM, 1Tb HD and 15″ screen.  It’s about £50 more than a “decent” Chromebook and it’ll give me all flexibility I need.  The HP Stream seems to much of a false economy to me.

Plus the machine will help me test new versions of SquirrelSave, plus I’ll get a free upgrade to Windows 10 when it’s released.

I’ve become too OS X-centric and getting my mitts on a Windows machine isn’t a bad thing.  My job requires me to be on top of current technology and trends.  And let’s face it – Windows (and PC hardware) isn’t likely to die any time soon.

(Note: not ditching OS X completely – my Mac will still be my primary machine)

OS X Mountain Lion “clean” install gotcha: Core Storage / encrypted disk issue

NOTE: This article has been brought back to life due to increasing popularity.  Some of the information may be out of date now that OS X Yosemite is the current version of OS X.

There appears to be an issue with the Disk Utility that comes bundled with the Mountain Lion recovery/installation system.

If you’re looking to do a completely clean Mountain Lion install, and already have an encrypted filesystem created by FileVault from OS X Lion – you may encounter the following problem when attempting to erase or delete it through Disk Utility. I have been able to reproduce this across two machines now (an early 2011 17″ MacBook Pro and a mid-2011 21″ iMac).

Once you’ve booted from the USB drive and fired up Disk Utility – if you delete the encrypted volume, you’ll find you’ll come across this message:

Disk Encryption Failed
Disk encryption failed with the error

There is not enough free space in the Core Storage logical volume Group for this operation.

You won’t be able to do anything at all with the boot volume – you can’t create a new partition, you can’t install – you’re snookered.

But don’t panic! Just quit Disk Utility, go to the Utilities menu and fire up Terminal. Then issue the command:

diskutil cs list

which will give you a list of logical CoreStorage volumes (and a physical volume as well – but ignore that). Copy the long UUID string of the the logical volume. Now type:

diskutil cs delete UUID

where UUID is that long string of characters. You will see a text-based progress bar for a bit and finally confirmation that the volume has been deleted. The whole process looks like this:



You can then quit Terminal, fire up Disk Utility, partition to your heart’s content and then finally install a fresh clean Mountain Lion from scratch. Hoorah.

Screening and Q&A of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell at BFI Southbank

Saw this:

So there’s going to be a Q&A with Eddie Marsan, Bertie Carvel, Charlotte Riley, Toby Hayes (director), Peter Harness (writer) and Nick Hirschkorn (producer) on April 13th at the BFI NFT1.


You can’t book it yet.

Thinking that I could become a BFI member to get priority booking/notification when tickets are available to the Q&A, I tried to buy a membership, but apparently I’ve logged in before and couldn’t remember my username.

I tried to reset the password, and the email went straight into the spam folder because the BFI do not publish relevant SPF DNS records (a rookie mistake, I’d expected better from them).

Got the password (the username is the email address – an often confusing phrase and I wish people that design user interfaces would stop doing this), and the hilarity began:


and then trying again, I got this confusing message:


Still can’t get any further. And why Order for Bogoff Bogoff?

Nope. I can’t support the BFI while their web site is this unstable.

So I’ll take my chances to see if I can get a ticket – if not, oh well. But it does lend some credibility that April 17th may be the day of the first broadcast of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

I do all my best proof-reading after I've hit the "Publish" button..