Disjointed Reality

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Grumpy old mandom

Oh dear... Another blog post, another moan. I do seem to be using this blog for complaining about things that annoy or frustrate me. Maybe I've got to that certain age - you know - where grumpy old mandom sets in. Is there such a word as mandom? Maybe not… but who cares anyway?

I was reading an article recently, by Stephen Fry. Actually when I think about it, it wasn't an article, it was a podcast - or, as he prefers to call his variety of podcast, a podgram. In it, he discussed at some length the use and abuse of the English language. Although not everybody will find the outpourings of Stephen Fry particularly appealing, I have, in recent years come to enjoy listening to and reading his views and observations.

In this particular podgram, he suggests that we are too tightly bound by spelling and grammar and punctuation; that the formalisation of a language can, in many ways get in the way of what language is all about - communication, the expression and understanding of thoughts and ideas. I know that what I write here is most probably full of errors, but I'm merely transferring words onto a screen as the thoughts come into my head. I'm sure that most of the few people who actually find their way to this blog will be able to understand what I'm saying, possibly with the odd wince at the occasional mis-placed semi-colon or hyphen.

I've drifted way off topic. This blog post wasn't intended to be about language at all. The subject of my moan is a sports television channel called Eurosport and the relatively new facility for subscriptions within iPhone applications.

A couple of months ago, an online friend recommended an application for the iPhone called Eurosport Player. I'm a keen cyclist and love to watch the live coverage of professional cycle racing on television. For many years this was available pretty well exclusively on Eurosport, which was broadcast from a number of satellite sources. It was advertising supported and free. Then, in the UK, around the time that satellite television underwent the transition from analogue to digital, Eurosport was bundled into the Sky network and was no longer free, though still broadcasting a significant amount of advertising (another minor irritation). To watch it meant signing up to a complete package of sports channels at a minimum monthly cost that currently stands at £19. A price I'm not prepared to pay.

Eurosport Player on the iPhone however is affordable. There is no contract. You can pay a recurring monthly fee of £2.39 for as long as you wish, or an annual payment at a cost of £23.99. The service is provided through what Apple calls "in-app purchases". The application is free, but you pay from within the application via your iTunes account for additional content.

I tried it during the Tour de France in July and it was great to be able to  watch the odd 10 minutes during the day on my iPhone. It all worked very well.

When my first month expired, shortly after the Tour de France ended, I didn't immediately renew, but decided to wait until the start of the Tour of Spain "La Vuelta" in late August.

The first few days were great, then Apple released an update to the iPhone operating system. When installed, my Eurosport Player had been reset and demanded that I paid another £2.39 to set up a month's coverage, even though I still had over three weeks of the previous one remaining.

Now I know £2.39 isn't a lot of money and there was every likelihood that I would be able to earn another £2.39 within that month, but I was annoyed.

I tried to post a complaint/enquiry on the Apple support website, but each time I did, I got an on-screen message stating that it was not possible to go to the next page.

I then wrote an email to Eurosport asking how I reinstate the active subscription. Their reply requested several pieces of information, including a copy of my iTunes invoice showing the transaction and iTunes account details. They also requested the UUID (Universally Unique Identifier) of my iPhone.

There is absolutely no way that I would ever send this sort of information in an email. So to cut a long, rambling story short, I missed virtually all of the coverage of La Vuelta and relied instead on web coverage from various sites and RSS feeds.

The in-app purchase system for Apple's iOS devices works fine until a system software update or a restore causes app preferences to be reset. This flaw really needs to be addressed, and an easier, more secure way to recover lost subscription data found and implemented.

I am perfectly happy in my grumpy old mandom by the way, but I think my next few posts should perhaps be a little less complaining.

You can find the podgram by Stephen Fry at

http://www.stephenfry.com/2008/12/22/series-2-episode-3-language/

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