Saturday, December 14, 2013

Invictus - 'Unconquered' ...

While incarcerated on Robben Island prison, Nelson Mandela recited this poem to other prisoners and was empowered by its message of self-mastery.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley, 1875.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Great Britain's Greatest Actors ... Not Who You Might Think ...

Okay, this is a personal opinion. I watch a wide range of TV shows and movies, a very eclectic mix.

Our favourite actors might just happen to be the ones we've seen in our particular preferred type of show or film (in which case, Laurence Olivier himself could be still alive and appearing in Coronation Street or EastEnders and I'd never know.)

De Niro
Recently a friend was talking about Robert De Niro as the greatest living actor. Hmm, hard to argue with that.

But I'll give it a go.

The problem with De Niro is simply type-casting. It's a damn shame that Hollywood is so short-sighted in that it seems to restrict roles for Italian-Americans to 'gangster' or 'tough-inner-city-cop'. De Niro has suffered from this and had to escape to comedies where he still plays the same roles, but for laughs. He's had many other 'non-cop, non-CIA, non-violent' roles in a few films, but how many people can reel off more than a couple of them?

Pacino
Sadly the same goes for Al Pacino, the other name that crops up when talking about great actors. Apart from a handful of films, he covers the same ground as De Niro. The one exception for me is his Shylock in the 2004 Merchant Of Venice, the highlight of a wonderful film.

So what makes a great actor? I think the factors that count are flexibility and diversification. Play twenty totally different characters and you're on the way to being considered very good indeed. The other criteria is peer plaudits - find the actor / actress who those in the business respect and add that person the a top ten list.

Spacey
Personally, I think that Kevin Spacey is better and more versatile than either of the two above. Even Denzel Washington.

And then there's the enigma that is Daniel Day-Lewis. Very selective over his choice of films, but when he signs on the line, he lives the role for the whole production.

So we got talking about specifically actors from Great Britain, and I came up with for me, the top three names that would guarantee me watching a TV series or film. And they might surprise you.

I'm not going provide you with a full biography, or list all the varied roles they've played and all the characters they've inhabited. I'm just going to put these three names down. You know them.

Mathew MacFadyen Ciaran Hinds Phil Davies

I'm An Introvert, Really... Really? Yeah, Really ...

Am I an extrovert ? Introvert ? Somewhere in the middle, like most people ?

How to tell ?

I found this wonderful 'infogram' today... and found that I fit pretty much all it's criteria. So, I *am* an introvert. Who'd a thought it ?


If you like this, check out Grant Snider at http://www.incidentalcomics.com.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hercule Poirot. R.I.P. ...


I'll miss the old bugger.

The Last Ever Poirot - Tonight ...

I was brought up on detective and crime stories. Arthur Conan Doyle, Ngaio Marsh, Dashiel Hammett, on to Raymond Chandler and Elmore Leonard and then more recently, Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankel and Jo Nesbo. But the greatest of all of them was Dame Agatha Christie.

David Suchet, sans moustache.
I have read everything she has written, and Hercule Poirot remains her - and the world's - best ever detective. (with apologies to fans of Sherlock Holmes, a close second)

David Suchet has starred as the sleuth in Agatha Christie's Poirot since 1989. In June 2013, Suchet finally finished filming of Curtain - Poirot's last case, which is aired tonight.

It truly is the end of an era.

No one could've guessed nearly 25 years ago that the series would span a quarter-century - or that the classically trained Suchet would complete the entire catalog of whodunits featuring the eccentric Belgian investigator, including 33 novels and dozens of short stories. The series castlist reads like a who's-who of British acting talent, including several early appearance by young actors who have gone on to great things, and no less than 15 actors who have played 2 different roles in different episodes. 

David Suchet as 'Poirot' in a scene from 'Curtain'.
Curtain, actually, although damn good, is perhaps not Dame Agatha's finest. The best novel (in my opinion) was The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd which has probably the best ever - and most controversial - final plot twist in Detective Fiction, and is considered one of the most influential crime novels in history. The best TV adaptation, again in my opinion, was the epic Five Little Pigs, with an unbeatable all-star cast - although 2010's Murder On The Orient Express was a close second, Suchet at his very, very best, and I challenge you to watch the intense last five minutes with dry eyes.

What Curtain is, is closure. A final act of the great man back at the same location as his very first case in Britain. The novel is tricky and twisty - not only does Hercule not know the identity of the murderer, he doesn't even know who the victim will be. And it is emotional - at least it is if you've come to love the fussy Belgian as I have.

It is time, then, to say goodbye to Hercule. The series will run and run as repeats, probably for a very long time, but tonight is the last time we will see fresh footage... It won't quite be the same. After this, every Poirot will be "I've seen it before and I know how it ends but I'll still watch it."

David Suchet, of course, has been the best man to ever play the role. It has been the defining role of his career, even the defining event in his life. "Poirot" he says, "has been my best friend." He is so perfect that Christie's grandson Mathew has commented: "Personally, I regret very much that she never saw David Suchet. I think that visually he is much the most convincing and perhaps he manages to convey to the viewer just enough of the irritation that we always associate with the perfectionist, to be convincing!"

There is, of course, the slim possibility that, just as the estate of Ian Fleming licensed the James Bond character to other authors after the original author died, so the family of Agatha Christie may choose, one day, to do the same. I hope not. Curtain was written specifically to put an end to the canon. Some things should just be let alone.

I remember I started reading Agatha Christie when I was 14. I remember finishing 'Curtain' (I read them in series order!) about a month before the Poirot series premiered. So, personally, I feel like I've been with Hercule almost all my life, either in print or on TV.

I hope you watch tonight. You will see one of the worlds finest actors play the one of the worlds finest ever characters, written by the greatest ever detective crime author.

Below is the official, and rather beautiful ITV trailer for the last series of four episodes.

Cloisters Shortcut, Westminster...

Skateboarder, South Bank, London...

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Dissecting The #EDL - Anatomy Of A #Nazi Tweet ...

In constant battles (in person at demonstrations and on-line as well) I see drunken Nazi thugs masquerading as 'Patriots' under the guise of the #EDL. When they're not being #BNP or #UKIP, of course.

They tend to rant on Twitter and Facebook quite a lot, making bold statements with no evidence to back them up. About time we took a close look at one of their vile rants and blew it out of the water. Here's a typical example ...


So, lets do this.

"WE ARE BIGGER THAN ANYONE EVER IMAGINED"

No, you're not. I'm sorry to break it to you but Facebook 'likes' do not equate to membership. The EDL peaked in 2011 with about 1200 attending one demonstration, and since then it's been shrinking slowly.

"WE ARE FOCUSED ON WHAT WE WANT"

Nobody is really sure what you want. Your leadership states one set of aims - for public consumption, and the media - yet what the EDL are really about is determined by social media posts of their 'followers', full of hate for anyone who isn't white, British, Christian, heterosexual and right-wing. The posts are full of threatened violence towards anyone different. Perhaps that's what the poster means when he mentioned being 'Focused on what we want'.

"WE ARE THE BIGGEST STREET MOVEMENT THIS COUNTRY HAS EVER SEEN"

Clearly the poster doesn't know his history. Need I mention the Peasants Revolt, the Suffragettes, the Jarrow Marches, the CND Marches, and more recently, 500,000 at the Anti-War Demo, 450,000 at the TUC Anti-Austerity March , and just this week, several thousands in London for the Million Mask March, joining brethren around the world in more than 400 cities. That's a street movement. Sadly, fifty guys drinking Stella hanging around a car park does not quality.

"WE GROW EVERY DAY"

Nope. I refer you to my previous answer. Basic maths would suggest that 'growth' would entail an increase in numbers. Which are decreasing, each demonstration. Today, 150 patriots showed up at Shotton.

"WE DO NOT GIVE IN"

Well, your leader has. As will the next one. And shrinking numbers suggest that your tagline 'NFSE' - No Fucking Surrender Ever' doesn't quite hold true for most of your 'followers'.

"BECAUSE GOD IS ON OUR SIDE"

He most certainly is not. Most Christians oppose you, as do the Church, the Clergy, and all right-minded people. Actually, God really hates racists. He told me personally.

"IT'S NOT RACIST"

Yes. It is.

Now go away.

Friday, November 08, 2013

My 3-Year #Twitterversary - And My All Time #Follow List...

Surbiton, Surrey is leafy and green, and where I used to live was surrounded by trees. I always used to see so much wildlife that I was inspired to hang up a birdfeeder on a bracket right outside my rear window.

On this day 3 years ago, a mini-storm, much like the one we've just experienced, hit Southern England, and I was reading by the window when a friendly squirrel appeared, braving the winds, to attack the sunflower seeds. [Birdfeeder Tip: Fill with just sunflower seeds for squirrels!]




Sadly this little fella was hit by a particularly strong gust and was almost thrown clear, just managing to swing below the birdfeeder attached by one claw. Bravely fighting the winds, this little warrior clung on, righted himself and hit paydirt as, hugging the feeder, he gorged himself on the contents.

What has this to do with Twitter? Well, I thought the incident was worthy of a comment.... but to whom? And then I remembered this new-ish service where you could broadcast messages about almost anything. So I opened my Twitter account with this masterpiece ...

  • Jesus, this mini-storm is really hitting #Surbiton! Squirrel just got blown off my birdfeeder!
    — John O'Connell (@jdpoc) November 8, 2010

Okay. Not earthshaking, I admit, but I soon got the hang of it.

3 years on and I count myself a relative veteran. I've taught Social Media to Charities and Faith Groups, used it to campaign strongly on issues I care about, to promote events I'm involved with, kept in touch with old friends, and met plenty of new ones, both solely on-line and later in person. I've been insulted - and given plenty of it back.

Here, then, is my all time top follows list, in no order at all. (Note: If I follow you and you're not on it - you'll just have to try harder. :-)

The List

@EveThomas40 - Eve Thomas
  • Founder of #OneVoice : Never Silenced. Mum, Speaker #victimseducation. Leading a national domestic violence campaign with @ukbarrister David Malone.

    Writes about her own own personal story and the campaign to create laws to protect Safe Houses. See also @EvesLaw. Very worthy of your support.
@zenpencils - Gavin Aung Than
  • I turn famous words into purdy pictures. zenpencils.com

    He undersells himself. Gavin converts inspiring quotations and book passages into works of beautiful graphic art good enough to hang on your walls. Luckily, he also sells them.
@A Girl Called Jack ‏ - MsJackMonroe
@zen_habits - Leo Babauta
@NoonPacific - Noon Pacific
  • Weekly playlist of songs from the best blogs delivered to your inbox. Snap Crackle Noon Pop.

    As it says. Makes Mondays bearable when they post a playlist of stuff you like and stuff you never heard of but also like. Which is every week without fail.
@halfabear - Emperor von Bunnies
  • Genderqueer femme, pinko commie bastard, abrasive cripple and full-time misandrist. Probably NSFW.

    Always provoking and interesting stuff. Has a menagerie of animals and great camera skills, always a top combination. Eclectic.
@xeni - Xeni Jardin
  • @boingboing, journalist. Breast cancer isn't something I have, but something my body is doing. I tweet about this & all that my mind is doing. xeni@xeni.net

    Apart from Tech News, tweets in a very intelligent fashion about her ongoing battle with breast cancer.
@SonOfTheWinds - TrafficDroid
@AgnesCPoirier - Agnès Poirier
  • Journalist, writer and broadcaster.

    London-resident French broadcaster who regularly appears on BBC. Speaks well of us Brits, usually.
@carltonreid - Carlton Reid
@prodnose - Danny Baker
  • How Much Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth? Foulenough! Begone!

    The brilliant Danny Baker, Broadcaster, writer, musicologist and general good egg. Always funny.
@KrustyAllslopp - CallEineNow!
  • NOT the one off the telly ... Just an all round gobby girl ;)

    Always amusing and spot-on with political stuff. And a talented opera singer, too. Must try to catch her sing live one of these days.
@fashionworked - Fashion Worked
  • Fashion & Fashion Related Issues Tweets, You Spend A lot Of Time In Clothes, Love Them

    My personal fashion guru. Yes, fashion. Me. Not a natural fit, but I'm thinking of colours now.
  • Author, journalist, feminist, reprobate, gentlewoman of fortune. Contributing Editor, @Newstatesman. Writer - @newinquiry,@guardian, @ViceUK. Tea and sedition.

    The unstoppable Penny Red. Often criticised, always fights back. A must follow.
@WhitsonGordon - Whitson Gordon
  • Editor-in-Chief of Lifehacker. Orange juice enthusiast. Conflicted Linux/Mac/Windows geek. Heretical Christian. Metalhead. Dragon slayer. Tetris ninja.

    The man behind the genius that is Lifehacker - the best site on the web.
@Frances_Coppola - Frances Coppola
  • Associate Editor at http://Pieria.co.uk . Singer, teacher, financial writer, bank refugee. Rubbish housewife. I may not even have read things I RT.

    Despite her self-deprecating bio, if there's a financial story in the news, read her timeline. Common sense explanations and clear views of complex matters.
@GemskaF - Gemma Hibee
  • Loves Edinburgh. Armed Forces, politics and news. Hibernian FC, from the Capital. Pride and pain in equal measures. GGTTH.

    The maddest Hibernian fan ever. Very knowledgeable about football, passionate about the UK Armed Forces. Talks Scots sometimes. See also the heroes of @37_Commando.
@Puffles2010 - The Dragon Fairy
  • This mythical creature used to spend a lot of time in Whitehall, & now spends a lot of time watching from outside. Likes jelly bellies, pistachio nuts & Rioja.

    The Legend that is Puffles. Politics and Cambridge, mostly, with all sorts of stuff mixed in. Had the pleasure of meeting Puffles in London a while ago - but then *everybody* knows Puffles. And yes, Puffles is a baby dragon fairy. It's a long story.
@dexradio - Declan McGlone
  • Lots of #cycling tweets, I'm a fan of all forms of cycling and cycling related things. The occasional rant about other things too :-)

    Essential follow for a cycling fan, especially when a major Tour is on. Really knows his stuff.
@MCNnews - Motorcycle News
  • The inside line in motorcycling. Get the latest news from the world's biggest motorcycling website and paper.

    Well, I have to find out what bikes I can't afford somewhere...
@latentexistence - Tentacle Sixteen
  • I complain, I rant and I swear but people seem to think I'm nice. I have mutant mitochondrial DNA. A triumph of curry over adversity.#Spoonie

    Blogger, Campaigner on disabled rights, occasional TV star, and a fellow Linux and RaspberryPi geek. Jolly fine chap in person, too.
@jonobacon - Jono Bacon
  • Dad, Ubuntu Community Manager, Consultant, author of The Art of Community, founder of the Community Leadership Summit, and slightly mad Brit.

    Started with a brilliant cult British online Linux Radio show - LUGRadio, ends up (so far) as US-based Ubuntu Community Manager. Also creates pretty mean thrash metal.
  • Raising money and awareness, uniting against breast cancer! #MoonWalk

    One of my favourite charities, with whom I've been involved as a volunteer for three years.
@stephenfry - Stephen Fry
  • British Actor, Writer, Lord of Dance, Prince of Swimwear & Blogger. NEVER reads Direct Messages: Instagram - stephenfryactually.

    Because you can't not. It's practically the law on Twitter. The unofficial God of Tech, also, by the way.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Quotation From Malcolm X ...

Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.

~ Malcolm X

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Greatest Speech Ever Made ...

Everything I've ever, ever wanted to say in one extremely moving, heart-stopping, video.

Please watch.


Speech - Charlie Chaplin, from 'The Great Dictator' (original here)
Music - Hans Zimmer, from 'Inception'.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Why We Ride ...

I go on about motorcycles and why I love riding.. Here's a bunch of people trying to explain it :-)



This... Just About Right ...

From xkcd, of course...



Musings On #Cycling From @SonOfTheWinds - AkA TrafficDroid ...

Droid Helmet on full power ...
I love cycling, you all know that.

So does the Droid.

A couple of years ago on the road in London, I met up with a cyclist with a wonderfully tricked-out bike, who's moniker (I later found out - he gave me his card) to be @SonOfTheWinds aka TrafficDroid.

A very friendly fellow two-wheeler, we exchanged small talk and I mentioned a cycling event I was involved with, the famous London Naked Bike Ride, which was due to take place just a week or so after we'd bumped into each other.

He attended the event and make a great YouTube movie of the WNBR. Since then I've been a follower of his accounts on Twitter and YouTube.

@SonOfTheWinds - who on Twitter goes by the name of #TrafficDroid - rides London with various cameras on his bike and on his person, and uploads various videos to YouTube showing the reactions of road users to him, to each other, as well as highlighting the law-breaking and sheer arrogance of some car drivers.

He is a gentleman of the road, always polite despite harassment and verbal abuse. He always stops to help others when he sees a need. His videos speak for themselves.

Recently on Twitter he was poetically expressing his love for two wheels - and I thought his tweets should be repeated. Here, then, are the words of the Traffic Droid, one of the finest explanations of why two wheels are good, from one of the finest gentleman on those two wheels.
Cyclists are free to enrich future generations with less CO2 emissions & increase great society of responsibility.

Cycling made me more and more aware of the environment, expanded my friendships and interactions with people and society.

You only have to watch the movement and verve of a cyclist. It's beautiful. It's symphonic. Poetry in motion. The human scale.

I will never forget the day I received my first commuter bike over 5 years ago now. It was a Dahon Jack. I tasted true freedom.

I became free of public transport, use of taxis & subways. I was in an uncontrollable orgasm of emotional well being. Ecstatic!

Cycling is the antidote to financial bleeding, it puts more food on the table and reinforces the fabric of being a human being.
 And when I remarked on Twitter that he was being very poetic this evening, he described it as thus:
 The culmination of the salad of this weeks commute tossed in the olive oil of experience.
That's classy.

Oh, and yeah - if you see a big 6ft guy on a tricked-out cycle waving a red card at you on the road - that just means you've done something pretty dumb. Here's one of my favourites:

The Most Perfect, Romantic Video ...

Whatever your thoughts on gay marriage - and I have no issue with it at all - there is this video, which is just.. lovely.

Fair enough, the basic idea is stolen from the movie 'Love, Actually' ...



But it's still a beautiful thing... Here it is.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Benefits Of Cycling ...

I've written before about the many benefits of cycling, here's a perfect graphic to say it all ...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Someone So Beautiful ...

You know when sometimes you meet someone,
So beautiful ...
And then you actually talk to them.
And five minutes later they're as dull as a brick.

But then there's other people ...
And you meet them and you think,
"They're okay".

And then you get to know them.
And their face just sort of becomes them,
Like their personality's written all over it.

And they just...

They just turn into something beautiful.

That.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

What's The Greatest Software Ever Written ... ?

This superb piece from Charles Babcock, Editor at Information Week is a must-read for anyone who is interested in computing.

An IT veteran with an address book full of other experts, he has examined the history of software - right back to the beginnings of Colossus, and come up with a Top 12 list that's hard to argue with.

For each item, he highlights the flaws as well as the triumphs. In the week in which UNIX technically reaches the grand old age of 40, this article really should be compulsory reading for those under-25 who seem to think that there only *ever* was Windows and Apple OS.

The complete article is here and I have to say, read it in full. It will enlighten you. In the meantime, here's the top 12:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Because Drummers Are Awesome ...


#Sherlock - For Those Of Us Who Feel We Don't Quite 'Fit In' ...


Do You Know Victims Of Domestic Violence? Give Them #OneVoice ...

No more.
As a male of the species, one of things I hate most is male violence against women.

It belittles all of us. It degrades those who are the victims, those who allow it to happen, and those who fail to protect and help the vulnerable.

I've written about this before, here and here, and I am certainly not alone in this opinion - as the campaign Men Against Violence (@MAV_Preston on Twitter) testifies.

A campaign has recently come to my attention which aims to provide support to victims, past and present: support which is sadly lacking within current legal or social services, or even government policy.

Founded and run by Eve Thomas (EveThomas40 on Twitter), The #OneVoice Campaign is worthy of your attention and your support.

The campaign's Mission Statement is to provide:

No more.
"A pool of resources for all abuse. Charity contacts and diverting people to sources and information, providing fund raising opportunities, initiating talks and change."

One of the campaign's main aims is :

"A victim of domestic violence/abuse should never be held in contempt of court and face prison for withholding their flee/safe address. This is an infringement of human rights and reveals a dangerous conflict in domestic legislation and human rights and puts victims in direct danger."

I never actually knew that safe/flee addresses were *not* protected? Eve appeals to all Westminster MPs to get behind her campaign, and she even has an endorsement from President Barack Obama to back her up.

The site also contains lots of important advice, and contact details for help and support.

No more.
So. It's time to act. Please support their national campaign to protect victims of domestic violence and their children.

Here is the link.

Eve, the founder of OneVoice, is a former victim herself of this kind of abuse - and has come through the other side of that dark place, stronger, and very determined to change things. And I applaud her for it.

The OneVoice Facebook page is here. Please 'Like' and spread the word.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Doing @BTCare 's Job For Them - A Working Fix for The @BTSport #VC019 Issue ...

Fail.
If you're getting this error, and tearing your hair out as various fixes work or don't work, try this one for Mac and Windows - I've just discovered it and it seems to work for a few people.

It appears that one particular SilverLight file - mspr.hd - might be corrupted and is not upgraded automatically - so you have to delete it by hand, after which SilverLight will nicely spot that it's missing and replace it when you next run the BT Sport app.

So try this ... Go *offline* first, and find and delete this file :
  • Windows 7:
    C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\PlayReady\mspr.hd
    (you might need to change view options to 'Show All Files')
  • Windows XP or Vista:
    C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\PlayReady\mspr.hds
    (you might need to change view options to 'Show All Files')
  • Mac OS X:
    [main hard drive]/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/PlayReady/mspr.hds
I'd be interested to see how many people this works for - it if does, please let me know!

Email me at johndpoc@gmail.com.

----------------

Update - @BTSport actually tweeted me after this and stated they would pass this onto their technical team. As I said, doing their job for them.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

@BTCare Reply On The #VC019 Issue ... Effectively, it's "Not Our Problem" ...

Fail.
Further to previous posts on the #VC019 error which has stopped so many, possibly 1000's, of BT Sport subscribers actually watching the service they've paid for, here's the reply from BT Care - also known as BT "We Don't Really Care At All".

It's dismissive, apparently final, and completely unhelpful.

We are therefore exploring other avenues, such as legal action and/or national media.

From BTCare:
We have no known issues with our on line player or App at this time and what you are advising is computer related and this is not something that we could take up on your behalf as we do not maintain your computer and its operating system. I am sorry that I am unable to offer assistance on this issue for you.
And that's pretty much it.

And my response: 
"We have no known issues with our on line player"

I see.

"I am sorry that I am unable to offer assistance on this issue for you."
 
So, to summarise:

Although after many, many hours of frustrating work, I have managed to get the three machines in my own household working, the group of subscribers I represent (see previous email) still have 19 of 43 machines still unable to view BT Sport via the online app - despite having up-to-date operating systems and up-to-date software, and yet are still being charged.

To say that we are disappointed is an understatement - disappointed in a very poor implementation, and in poor technical support. This matter all stems from BT's ill-informed choice of SilverLight as it's media streamer, and BT's reluctance to take responsibility for that decision.
We will have a further online meeting in a few days time after I disseminate your reply and allow time for perusal.

It is highly likely that each individual subscriber will be applying individually for a rebate or reduction in subscription for a service that is not being supplied. The possible actions afterwards are, as previously mentioned, legal action and national print and broadcast media attention.
As I mentioned in my reply, I have finally succeeded in getting BT Sport online app actually working in the three machines in my household - but that is after *hours* of research and hours of implementation - and I'm very IT-literate. God knows what a struggle it is for those less so.

We continue to investigate other avenues.

Friday, September 13, 2013

My Reply To @BTCare On The #VC019 Issue ...

Lots of unhappy subscribers...
Readers will be aware of my struggle over the dreaded BT Sport #VC019 error - which has stopped me watching BT Sport despite paying for the subscription.

Twitter followers will also be aware of my frustration over @BTCare's lukewarm response to this issue which affects thousands of users - who, of course, are still having their Direct Debits processed.

Here's my reply, today, to @BTCare's email :
Sirs, 
Regarding your email (attached) on the subject of the VC019 issue. 
"our services are tried and tested before it is introduced to the public" 
Clearly not *sufficiently* tested in this case. If I implemented a 'solution' that worked as intermittently as this, I would not get paid for my work. 
"like all technology there are faults." 
Not when implemented correctly. 
From your 'Help Page' : 
"The BT Sport online player will work on the following browsers:
For Windows PCs
> Internet Explorer 7 or above
> Firefox
> Chrome"
  
"Will work" ? I think for the sake of accuracy you should amend that to "probably will work". Your use of the word 'will' without provisos is extremely misleading, otherwise the forums would not be full of BT Sport subscribers who have Win7+ and MSIE7+ and a new install of Silverlight - and yet *still* have the VC019 error.
I have tried, already, the fixes you have mentioned on the help page that you directed to me. All of them, from No. 1 to No. 11. Some of them, if you are aware of the technology behind Silverlight, actually have no effect. In fact, I specifically stated that I had tried these 'fixes' in my original communication - so directing me to that page was rather pointless. Did you read my original communication at all before replying? 
"Silverlight isn’t a BT Product and we don’t support it. " 
No, you don't support it. But you chose it. In terms of support, even Microsoft have virtually abandoned it. This issue stems from your IT people's choice of a flaky system of media delivery. That responsibilty is yours and yours alone. 
Update on the users meeting that I mentioned in my communication: 
A number of us suffering from this issue - and still paying our subscriptions - held an online meeting on the evening of Wednesday the 9th. Amongst our number were both experienced coders, IT professionals with decades of experience, and legal advisors. 
Between us we were able, online, to get some laptops and desktop systems working, mainly using a combination of 'Update Time' fix and reinstalls. 
Our main complaints, as a subscriber group, are these, and we wish BT to urgently address these issues. 
1. The VC019 issue can be solved, in some cases, by extensive research into various fixes, attempting all the possible fixes until one works. This is well within the capabilities of those who are extremely IT-literate, but certainly, we would suggest, outside the general skill set of most BT Sports subscribers. BT needs to communicate these fixes to it's subscribers in a clear, concise manner, and, we would suggest, develop a simple downloadable tool to check which fixes have been applied and which can still be attempted. 
2, BT appears to be downplaying this issue. This is understandable, given the potential public relations issues so soon after launch. BT needs to display it's integrity and honesty by making a public statement in the form of a Press Release on the VC019 issue as part of it's solution. 
3. BT needs to consider rebating subscription fees to users who are still unable to view the services they have paid for - until a solution is implemented. 
Our group has also, as I mentioned before, taken advice on a possible legal action on behalf of all users suffering from this issue, yet still being charged for the service. We have been advised that our case is quite strong and we have legal professionals willing to provide their services. 
They advise, however, that we allow BT Sport additional time and further communications before proceding, and we will do so. 
We can also advise that we have had further communications with national print and broadcast media who have adopted, for now, a wait-and-see stance.
We would insist, therefore, that BT Sport address the three points above, and and we will allow sufficient time for this to take place, before we consider our next action. 
:: John D. P. O'Connell 
In short then:

BT Sport are continue to charge many subscribers for a service that does not work as advertised, as a direct result of poor implementation by BT Sport.

BT Sport are continuing to advertise in order to gain new subscribers despite being fully aware of this issue.

BT Sport are failing to fully address the VC019 issue for fear of poor public relations so soon after launch.

I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Creative Cycle Theft Deterrants ...

The wonderful BikeyFace site does it again...


Getting The @BTSport 6030/VC019 Error ... ?

Having opted for BT Broadband (Infinity) over Virgin just three weeks ago, for the BT Sport channels, life as a sports fan has been underwhelming, as we've been hit by the now infamous 6030/VC019 error.

... No, it doesn't.
For the uninitiated, this error code is about all you get to see, half the time, when trying to watch one of these new channels, using the online application at http://sport.bt.com. And it's not just me - try searching for 'vc019 error code' and you'll see that various forums are jam-packed full of 1000's of others in the same boat.

The problem lies with a piece of software called Silverlight. Designed by MicroSoft, it's a bit like Adobe Flash - except that Flash actually works as it's supposed to. How on Earth BT came to the decision to use Silverlight is beyond comprehension - I have no idea what they were smoking at that particular meeting but I reckon someone said 'Let's use Silverlight' as a joke, the minute-taker wrote it all down, and someone was told to implement it.

Silverlight is not cutting edge. It's old, flaky, and unreliable. Microsoft haven't updated it for nearly two years and, frankly, IT insiders know full well that it's one of Microsoft's mistakes that they'd rather forget about - and frankly, sweep it right under the carpet. So BT's choice of Silverlight is rather mystifying.

To add salt to the wound, just days after we opted for BT, our second-choice provider Virgin announced they would carry the channels. Now we are locked into a BT contract that doesn't provide us with a service that works.

NO. It DOESN'T !
So what do we do? Try the Customer Care Line? Technical Support? Look, I'm a total tech-head and *I'm* struggling with fixing this. Most Tech Lines Staff can't go further than the basic fixes - and if they worked we wouldn't be in this mess.

But we have a solution. Oh, boy, do we !

Seeing as this is a clearly a faulty (I would personally say naive and incompetent) implementation, we are not being provided with the service we have paid for, and BT are still advertising despite knowing about this serious issue, we've decided to go the legal route. A group of us have been conversing on Twitter and Skype about options, and having discussed the matter with solicitors who are technology specialists, we believe we have a strong case.

We have also had conversations with national print and broadcast media, who are awaiting our response from BT before examining the issue further.

We'll keep you updated.

--------------

Addendum:

Wow, thanks already for all the responses. Yes, we're all pissed off about this, and hopefully a reply from BT or some news from our meeting tonight will move things along. Thanks again!