Friday, 28 April 2017

Slartibartfast tour!

I have a couple of very long standing (aka suffering) mates, and we did a thing last year which we hoped to be the start of an annual thing. We went to LA and Vegas.

Mike organised it and we had 1st class flights to US. That was pretty cool. It made the flight pretty bearable, but still for like 9 hours, was hugely expensive. It was good though. We had fun in LA, and even introduced a barmaid to marmite! We had fun in Vegas. I went hunting a new camera, nightmare, and I probably caused annoyance to my mates in doing so. I have it now - Canon, please don't do a new camera in next three weeks.

It was an awesome holiday, and I was really appreciative that I was not doing the driving (LA to Vegas) to be honest. I also appreciate how much Mike paid, but the whole trip was great fun.

This year, I am carrying on the tradition, and have us booked in a couple of weeks on an 8 day cruise. We were lucky, Mike found the trip after we all tried the web site(s) repeatedly. We assume a cancellation to get this cabin for this price on two weeks lead time.

This is not cheap, and neither was last year. It is each of us saving up to afford this, and then only just. It is all about making something memorable and worth the money. You only live once, and it is really nice if we can afford to live, occasionally. This year a series of favourable events mean I can manage to pay. I suspect Simon is bricking himself for next year, but to be fair it is not about the price but the experience and being with friends for a week or so, and so no pressure :-)

The "cabin" (aka "stateroom") we have booked is fucking awesome, sorry. Hot tub, piano, ten times the size of all but two other cabins on the ship (one of which is the other one like this, there are only two). You could throw parties in this. I'll get pictures and videos. I could not believe our luck when it came up. The web site then made it impossible to book it and I spent well over an hour in Thomas Cook today while the agent there (that we know quite well now) sorted it all. Well done.

It is the Slartibartfast tour - and yes, spell checking understood Slartibartfast! Norwegian fjords. With any luck some northern lights. We'll all be working to some extent - that is the nature of each of us running a business, but the open bar and wifi will help with that. I may be working from the exclusive hot tub with open bar, sorry...

Really I can't wait. It is going to be so cool. My wife is jealous and I just know I'll be paying for that somehow.


"I don't want porn coming in to my home"

As you know, I always get very concerned if any customer has a disconnect with what they expect and what we provide. I take it very seriously and always try to improve how we work to avoid it in future. It does not happen often, but we had one today that was, for want of a different word, "special". I initially assumed it was a wind up even!

The gist of it was that there were a list of things that she did not want coming in to her home including porn, suicide, self harm... She was amazed that "the internet" has not taken down such videos. Who? Apparently "blue wale challenge" is real and "every school in the uk has sent a formal email about it to parents and children have been told about it in assemblies" - really?!? Not the schools round here, sorry.

OK, personally, I think that if her kid's school has told kids in assembly not to google for suicide videos, that would be something to complain about as it would be very irresponsible. Tell a kid not to do something, that works every time, duh!

Though, her kids are apparently quite savvy, as her son "innocently googled some games the other day and found a pretty hard core sex games internet site"... Err, OK... Safe search, anyone? Given a later comment I hope this is a son in late teens... If so, I suspect he knows how to "innocently" google many things by now. Time to talk to your kids about what you may find on the internet I think.

OK, lets be a bit fair here. Not everyone knows how to fact check stories. People do need some help understanding how they can filter content, or even just turn on google safe search on the browsers their kids are using! It is actually quite a concern that parents get very little help in this area - it is bad enough learning about everything you need to know when being a parent but for a whole generation, this stuff is new and complicated. It is not something parents could have been taught in school even.

To be clear: we are more than happy to offer advice, and even set alternative DNS servers as default on the router. We're not irresponsible here. What we do is make sure every customer is well aware that they are buying an unfiltered service with an active choice you cannot ignore on the order form, as well as confirmation in the key terms you have to tick, and on our web site and the order confirmation and the information pack we send.

It is also very important that parents understand that no filtering is 100%, so is a "false sense of security" to some extent. It is also the case that a teenage boy (and girl I expect) will be more than capable of bypassing filters if they want to access something. What you need is education and openness, not cotton wool. Else you create innocent blobs that go out on their own in to the wild world of the internet at 18 and don't know how to handle what they find and probably with nobody to talk to.

But the icing on the cake was the last bit...  "My boys play 18 rated pc games...... all killing and horrrible stuff......Hopefully they will still be able to play these games?"

OK, now I am not sure what to say, sorry... Please, just be a parent!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The plot thickens...

Unbelievable...

Today I decided to try something else with the Apple TV. I set up another Apple ID with iTunes store account. I then family shared my normal Apple ID to that.

I logged in as the new Apple ID and played episodes via the family sharing.

First episode fine.

Next episode - wants my iTunes password before playing...

And before someone asks, I also tried fixed IP config IPv4 only already.

Next step: physically swapping for another Apple TV

Update: didn't help - Apple TV using my account asked for iTunes password on playing one of the episodes. Arrrrg!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Cursed apple

So where are we with my Apple TV saga...

They are referring to "engineering". That is it...

Latest things I tried...
  • Change apple ID, so if any machines I forgot are trying to log in then they will not know new apple ID.
  • Only have my Mac, Phone and Apple TV on the new Apple ID
  • Turn 2FA back on
  • Turn off home sharing, just in case
  • Log off iCloud, just in case
  • Again, confirm payment details, and actually buy a film on the Apple TV
Guess what - not helping. Still asking my iTunes password, around every hour, on play of episode, or rewind within it. Randomly will not even show episode with "unexpected error" requiring restart.

This is what makes pirating movies easier! If I pirated movies I would not have this hassle.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

I expected better

I had an interesting exchange with a customer this evening.

His internet has been down for an hour and he texted our "Major Service Outage" number saying so and saying he "expected better".

I'm not sure what to say to that - if we really have a customer that expects that a fault, which they have not even reported, is fixed within an hour, out of office hours... What does that mean? If we really have people with that expectation I am tempted to try and sell to them. I expect it will be many thousands of pounds a month for such a service, with multiple redundant leased lines, diversely routed, and a lot of 24/7 active monitoring and staff. I suspect we could do it, for the right price.

Of course, that is not what we normally sell. So if one of our customers expects that they have a serious misunderstanding as to what they have purchased. I try to be honest in what we sell, so I am worried that someone expected more.

At the end of the day things calmed down. I was unhappy as he "abused" our MSO system. It alerts many staff for what could be a major outage. In the evening, not so bad, but middle of night, not good at all. Either way it is staff that are not at work and trying to spend time with family. The reaction from staff that do get the alert was not good, and I took over and was, I have to say, rude...

As per the web pages on this, I was rude. You are asking for a rude reply if you abuse the MSO system! That is what we say!

It turns out he read of the MSO text details on the status pages, which does not have as many caveats. We need to fix that. It is clear it has to be "multiple lines" and so was clearly abusing the system. It was not as clear as the main web page on this. So we can be clearer, I conceded. We'll fix that. Sorry.

Ironically, this fault looks like it may affect 3 lines. It is even an "incident" that TT have spotted. So ironically not something we need to take any action on as it is all in hand. The issue is that this person did not know it was impacting more lines. Our aggregate systems do not spot three lines going down together as that is too few to recognise as a pattern. Good news is it should be fixed soon.

I hope the mix of rude and reconciliatory messages was the right level in the end. We'll see. At the end of the day, expecting a line issue to be fixed within an hour of *not* reporting a fault is special, in my opinion - and I'd be happy to sell such services for the price they deserve...

Let's hope this line is sorted soon.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Talking to apple support

I went through the iTunes email based support, took ages, and no help.

So I called 08001076285, as they suggested, to get support. It is a horrid voice based IVR thing. So I have to say my serial number the first time. This time I said my case number.

Oddly, they are actually very pleasant, so well done on that. I have a dread of calling any tech support normally. I hope our (A&A) tech support does not create the same sense of dread for customers. We have no call gate!

On the first call I explained the issue, and what I had tried. Eventually they suggested one thing I had not ("restoring" via iTunes and a cable). So I have done that now, and hence another call.

I am tempted to publish the call recordings (and annoying hold music). I will have to change my security questions first :-)

Basically, I have tried everything so far...
  • Changing password
  • Turning on two factor authentication
  • Turning off two factor authentication (twice now)
  • Removing all devices from account and starting again
  • Turning off family sharing
  • Factory resetting (many times)
  • Restarting using iPhone, and using manual setup
  • Using cable to "restore" the Apple TV via iTunes
  • Upgrading, many times
Still broken.

They think "something somewhere is asking for an iCloud password, or something" and that is upsetting it.

I removed all devices from my apple ID already, if this is what it is that is mad. I have just logged in to two iMacs and set new passwords. If that solves it Apple are fucking stupid! No way a third party failed login attempt should break my Apple TV. Just broken logic there Apple!!!

P.S. If this works I should do a more controlled test - what if someone just used my apple ID and wrong password, would that break it? If so Apple really are broken!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Julian Huppert - Cambridge

I have met a few MPs, and Julian is (was) one of them (see wikipedia).

The party he stands for is the Lib Dems, and the area is Cambridge.

I have met him, and discussed several policy issues with him. Overall he is sensible in my opinion. More so than many MPs and way more so than some MPs or the PM.

He is educated, understands science, and even rides a bike!

I was not really in to politics until some of the more recent stupidity that started to affect me and my customers. So far Julian has been quite sane in the discussions on the many issues that have come up, and so have the party for which he stands.

Now, some would say this sounds like a mediocre endorsement - but please, those that know me -  this is far from mediocre - I do not endorse someone lightly.

Julian is someone with which I feel that I could have a sane debate, and would listen to my views. If I lived in Cambridge, regardless of the party for which he chose to stand, that would be good enough. He should represent his constituents, and I am confident he can do that. He has integrity and sincerity.

Right now, in politics, we have some crazy shit going down, and the Lib Dems actually seem to be the only ones being vaguely sane right now.

Even if you are not massively in to one party or the other, if you live in Cambridge, please do look at the candidates and take Julian seriously. If nothing else, he is one of the few who could be in parliament with some decent education and understanding of science.

So, if you can, vote for Julian in Cambridge. A voice of reason in these troubling times.