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Sky+ – Utterly Dire!

Discussion in 'Sky Digital TV Forum' started by plague1392, Oct 15, 2002.

  1. plague1392

    plague1392
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    I’ve been using Sky+ for about six months now and I’m about ready to put it out the window. Prior to Sky+ I used Tivo and I really regret downgrading to Sky+ because I had problems from the very start. The first problem I found was Sky+ cutting off the end of most programmes and no facility to do anything about it. Another problem was that you couldn’t record further than 7 days ahead and yet another was the series link doesn’t work with most programmes. They’ve since solved these problems with the manual record and facility to offset the recordings by a specific amount. Unfortunately both these features are almost as bad as recording from the schedule listings.

    One problem is that you can’t set a weekly timer recording on the day of the week you want it to record. Another is that the time recording offset is global for all programmes you record, unlike Tivo where you can offset the start and end times of individual records that you know are frequently late. Having 15 minutes on the end of every programme to catch one programme that is generally 15 minutes late is just a waste of hard disk space. So in my opinion the timer recording facility in Sky+ is still worse than a cheap VCR.

    Then there are the general problems. Looking around this forum I see people with complaints that they can’t record, which is solved by unplugging it and plugging it back in. This is one of many small problems. Others are that with some recordings fast forwarding at 30x just causes it the freeze and you have to back out and start playing again. Another is that sometimes playing back a recording causes it to play with no sound, and again you have to back out and start playing again. Other times it just locks up and you have to pull the power out to get it started again. A great one is if the there’s a short signal loss during a broadcast; instead of just getting a bit of interference on your recording Sky+ packs up and doesn’t record the rest of the programme. Great!

    While the above problems, plus many more, show what a shoddy piece of kit Sky+ is they’re all tolerable (well except the signal one, but that’s rare). What is completely intolerable is the disappearing programmes bug. You wouldn’t believe the number of programmes you set to record that just disappear before the programme is broadcast. For example on Friday I set Sky+ to record three programmes and one film on each day of this week (Mon-Fri) – 20 programmes in total. On Sunday I checked to see these timers were still there and found all 20 programmes had disappeared. I went about setting it to record the same 20 programmes on Sunday night hoping that they might stay this time.

    On Monday (yesterday) I sat down to watch the programmes I had recorded and found that all of them had again disappeared apart from the ones set to record on Thursday and Friday (though they would probably disappear by then). This left me with nothing to watch and missing programmes in a series with a running story. ****ed right off, I reset the recordings for Tuesday wrote another email to Sky, which they’ll ignore, and went to bed early. I just checked today and they have recorded, but having missed yesterday’s episodes I can’t be bothered watching them.

    I never missed anything when I used to use a VCR, or when I used Tivo but since getting Sky+ I’ve been either missing the ends of programmes or missing them entirely because the scheduled recording has disappeared.

    Sky charge you £10 a month for the privilege of using your £300 piece of hardware. But you get more than that for your £10 a month, you get to miss most programmes making your regular Sky subscription a complete waste of money as well. I don’t watch any live TV, and generally record about four or five programmes a day. An alarming proportion of these recordings disappear before they programme is shown. Sky+ has lead to me watching less TV and getting extremely angry on a regular basis.

    I do have another friend who has been using Sky+ for a about three months and he thinks it’s good (but overpriced at £10 a month). I asked him how much he recorded and he said about seven programmes over the time he’d had it. It seems like Sky+ isn’t too bad if you hardly use it, and the chances of being hit by the disappearing programmes are fairly low. However if like me you record a fair bit you really get to find out how utterly ****e it is. I really regret buying it, but I can’t justify buying another Tivo. I keep hoping they’ll sort it out, but by now I’ve realised that the developers working on the Sky+ software are completely retarded and couldn’t

    There are more problems with Sky+ than I’ve mentioned above, though the main one is the disappearing programmes. If you’re considering Sky+ I personally wouldn’t bother because it simply doesn’t work. The only positive point about it is the recording quality, but that’s not much use if the programmes you set to record have disappeared.

    Sorry for the long post, but it may be useful to anyone considering ****e+. No doubt people with disagree with these views, but I can only presume these are people like my friend who hardly use it. I should also add that I don’t dislike Sky, and think their £16 a month package is absolutely incredible value for the channels you get. Unfortunately Sky+ is junk and makes the rest of the service completely useless, and they don’t seem to want to fix it (or probably are too stupid to).
     
  2. Starburst

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    I can't disagree with your views because they are your views and based on your experiences.

    However I have used SKY+ for over a year now and record programming around the clock since I work shifts and apart from some teethign problems in the first month I've have had little or no trouble with over running programs and disappearing planner entries.
    I will say though I do not use series links and I don't record much off the terrestrial channels on SKY D which are the ones that seem to have the bulk of the problems from reading this and other forums.

    Personally I don't understand why you have put up with the performance of your hardware, the fact that you moved from TIVO to SKY+ is amazing in itself since TIVO owners never seem to have a bad thing to say about it:)
    You should make written notes of all the failed recordings with times and channels and then claim back your SKY+ and SKY D subscriptions due to the lack of service infact I am surprised if you had complained enough that SKY didn't send an engineer out to replace the unit. I have read posts in another forum where SKY+ subscribers have been given free months due to planner failures, perhaps they are just better and negotiating than other people.
     
  3. plague1392

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    Tivo was absolutely great apart from one feature which was the picture quality. It wasn’t too good on the lower quality settings and stuttered on the higher settings. When I read Sky+ suffered no degradation I went for it. Probably should have kept hold of the Tivo for longer, but I never anticipated these sorts of problems.

    My earlier emails to Sky were initially detailed bug reports, trying to give them as much information about the problems as possible so they could recreate them and fix them. I now know better and realise they don’t want to fix the problems.

    I can’t see how you couldn’t have experienced any programmes disappearing as it happens to me all the time. I wonder if it’s a problem with my box. Think I’ll give them a call on a day nothing has disappeared so I’m not absolutely enraged during the conversation and can talk sense :)
     
  4. Xeonic

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    Almost mirroring starburst, I've had sky+ for about a year, and record on it at least weekly - things on the disk range from the first day got till a few days ago. And again except for some initial software bugs, and the "x30 stop and start again" thingy it's been almost flawless.

    Firstly IMHO if any equipment behaved as you recollect I would take it back in the first week - equipment is supposed to work, not fail. Personally I use 'R' record marking the programmes rather than faff about with timers, I've seen it cut 1 recording on the end credits - it shouldn't cut off 5/10 minutes unless the EPG times themselves are wrong, which can happen.

    The kind of problems you are having sound like either the box itself, or the dish connections. sky+ needs two strong feeds to work properly - you should check for at least 50% on all bars in the system setup - I believe signal errors could cause any of the non recording issues you have, interruptions in MPEG2 streams are handled very badly by software. This is not unique to sky+ - it can also seen in dvb sat recorders and pc dvd players which crash with errors from dvds.

    As for a tivo comparisions, I couldn't say cos I haven't used it, but from these forums (and previous lengthy A is better than B threads) both seems to have their good and bad points. For sky+ the ability to playback the original the mpeg stream directly with 5.1 and no other encoding is not exactly "downgrade" functionality.
     
  5. gringottsdirect

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    :D

    Firstly, thanks to Starburst and Xeonic for saving me a bit of typing, again I feel as they say.
    I posted about disappeared progs bug months ago, did have months refunded, hasn't happened since early Summer.
    I can't agree a break in the signal stops the whole recording, it happened during Angel recently, then carried on.
    Your Skyplus+ is obviously defective.
    The good news is that if you fancy another Tivo, everyone has dropped them like a plague so £99 or so will bag one now.
    I have a couple of Tivos and Skyplus+, to each his own, but why do so many Tivo evangelists have the 1000 yard stare ?
     
  6. DaveP

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    plague1392, sorry to hear you have had so many problems. We all moan about Sky+ for one reason or another but at the end of the day we wouldn't part with it for all the tea in China. I have both the Tivo and Sky+ and if I could keep just one it wouldn't be the Tivo. Don't get me wrong the Tivo is brilliant at what it does and I use it in a totally different way to the way I use Sky+.

    I suggest you get your box swapped by Sky. In the meantime try using the blue button more on the scheduled recordings. It gives priority to the recording program if another is scheduled to run after that one finishes. You should never have to run 15 minutes over!

    You say "One problem is that you can’t set a weekly timer recording on the day of the week you want it to record" I believe that this has been fixed with the latest release. I've only used it once to manually record a program and I'm sure I could choose whether it repeated every day or every week etc. It should be more reliable than a series link.

    I'm sure if you can get your box swapped you will get a different view of how good the box really is.

    DaveP
     
  7. boltoa

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    I've had my Sky+ for about 6 months and have been generally happy. Initially it used to lose programmes from the schedule regularly, but that had cleared up. Up until last week, when it started doing it again - lost loads in the space of a couple of days. But that seems to have stopped again.

    With the latest software, not only can you add 5 mins or whatever (agree about universal setting being annoying), but you can record manually, a set time every weekday, or whatever. Manual timing has been added to the Sky+ menu, I think.

    It does have it's problems, but for the quality, and functionality, I'm happy with it. Would like not to be paying £10/month for the priviledge tho.

    Andrew
     
  8. plague1392

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    Well it’s good to hear that it’s working for some people. Hopefully it is a problem with the box and it can be sorted out. It’s driving me absolutely mad and I’ve more or less stopped watching TV entirely because I can’t watch a series all the way through. It’s the biggest problem in my life right now, and has been for the last six months :)

    Xeonic, I don’t think it could be the signal because it’s not really a non-recording issue. The problem is that the scheduled recordings disappear sometimes days before the programme is due to broadcast. Sometimes I notice they’ve disappeared so I can set them again, but then they often disappear again.

    DaveP, sorry I didn’t explain the weekly timer bug too well. I just checked now and it’s definitely still there. Say you’ve just finished watching a programme from 7:30pm to 8:00pm and you decide you want to record it every week. You can’t set it to record every week because the current day doesn’t appear in the list of days, only ‘Today’ so it thinks the time has already passed not caring that you’re actually trying to set a weekly recording. No, still not explaining it too well :) At the end of a programme weekly programme try and set it to record that programme every week and you’ll see what I mean. You have to wait until the next day to set it.

    This facility works in any cheap VCR, but the Sky+ team managed to get it wrong. It’s this sort of thing that leads me to suspect it’s the software and not the box. Hopefully I’m wrong though.

    If I get access to another Sky+ I’ll set a list programmes on that box and one mine and see if they disappear on both or just mine. I’ll let you know the results when I do it.
     
  9. DaveP

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    I think I understan you "bug" now. Maybe it's tied into the 7 day EPG. You are effectively trying to schedule something on th eighth day.

    Good luck anyway, wih Sky and getting it sorted.

    DaveP
     
  10. plague1392

    plague1392
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    It's not really scheduling something on the eights day, it's scheduling a reoccurring weekly recording which you should be able to do any time. It's not something that you'd never want to do either. I finished watching a programme, decided it was good and tried to set it to record every week, but I had to wait until the next day before I could set the recording with Sky+. You wouldn’t have the same problem with any VCR or a Tivo because they work. You really do have to wonder where they’re getting the software developers from.

    Like I say though, it’s just one of countless inconveniences with Sky+ that are annoying but worth tolerating for the recording quality. If only the recording schedules would stop disappearing.

    I’ll have the same 70 recordings scheduled on two different Sky+ boxes over the next week, so if the same recordings disappear I’ll know it’s the software and if they just disappear on mine I’ll know it’s my Sky+ unit.
     
  11. DaveP

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    I'll try the programming tonight. Let us know how you get on with your tests

    Cheers

    DaveP
     
  12. Xeonic

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    Yes p1392, I think I've found that bug!! All one has to do is try and set a manual recording for "TODAY", any frequency, with the start and end times before the current time - it doesn't allow you :( You want it to start on the eighth day, but the system takes TODAY to be day 1, which it is really :)

    This is probably to stop you scheduling recordings for the past, and for the ambiguous situation where the currrent time is in the middle of the start and end - what would you want it to do then, start immediately, possibly stopping anything else that might be recording/live paused?? The box has taken the easy way out, making sure the time is definitely in the future.

    You mention "any old vcr" would do this (with hi-quality 200 line VHS wobblyvision to boot of course), but I bet if you set the timer at 2pm to start at 1pm end at 3pm on different vcrs you'd get different results.
     
  13. Dodgey

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    I have a Tivo, and my views are not because of that..

    After goint through 3 sky receivers and enduring their customer service (used loosely) I would never consider buying anything that had a Sky receiver (or two) as key components. They are simply not reliable (and now I find sky won't service receivers over 12 months old without charging - what a suprise).

    The only problems I run into are when my Sky receiver mysteriously switches off. Used to happen EVERY Friday for 4-5 months then stopped. Not so bad now. But of course if it is off the Tivo is shagged.

    The Tivo has proven faultless. I upgraded to 2 x 120 Gb Hard disks and have never had a problem at any quality (I just use high and best as space is not an issue)

    If Tivos are going for £100 then grab one!! I for one could not care for 5.1 from sky. That;s what my DVDs are for and I'm not paying Sky to watch a movie that came out on rental months before.

    I HATE sky !!!

    There you are. Said.

    Original poster - I completely sympathise!
     
  14. gringottsdirect

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    .....really ? :eek:
     
  15. Dodgey

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    Yes really!! About 8-12 months ago they changed their policy from repair / replace any age to 12 months.

    So now, when you subscribe to Sky it is impreretive that you are happy with the receiver you receive (as you are effectively buying it). If not, get it swapped before the 12 months is up. Have a look on ebay and you will see that good condition sky boxes trade well now because people with duff 12 month + boxes need a cheap replacement!

    After that, it's a £40 minimum inspection fee then £40 per hour. Believe me, I'd rather pay my gran £40 per hour to have a look. At least it would be a laugh!
     
  16. Starburst

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    SKY have always given the traditional 12 month warranty on digital hardware and installations they supply, I really don't understand why anyone would be surprised that SKY refuse to cover the costs of problems after 12 months. If you feel there is a manufacturing fault then a small claims action can prove to be very beneficial otherwise a call to SKY and make the claim you can't afford to pay so you are going to cancel the subscription has been known to work wonders:)

    As for the £40 inspection fee and £40 an hour, what planet are you living on? If you are going to bad mouth SKY at least get your facts straight.
    The callout fee is £65 for out of warranty work and covers the supply and installation of all hardware (dish,LNB,cable and digibox) required to get you up and running again.
     
  17. gringottsdirect

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    Sarcastic post alert :eek:
     
  18. Dodgey

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    Actually Starburst (and I don't quite see your need to be so bloody agressive ) - up until a year or so ago, Sky repaired kit of any age. They did this on the basis that you didn't buy the box, you were effectively renting it from them - it was part of the package you were paying for. If your box does not work then you can't get the channels you are paying for. This made perfect sense. Especially when they off load the likes of Amstrad on you.

    Then, without warning they changed their policy. Not a lot of fun for those who's box had niggling faults but was left unrepaired, only to find out they would have to pay when the faults proved to be more than niggling.

    Part of the point up for discussion on this thread is that Sky products and services are poor - as suggested by the original poster. I find it particularly poor that you have to threaten to withdraw your subscription or take legal action (small claims) to get a response from Sky. I have used them for about 10 years (no other choice out there for me). Trust me, I know how to get them into action, and have indeed had to threaten them legally to get things done. With my current Grundig box they have refused point blank to help and when I threatened to cancel my subs. they were not interested (perhaps because I only have the basic package?).

    When I upgraded to Sky digital a few years ago I insisted that as part of the deal I would not accept an Amstrad box. They installed one (I was not present). I sent a letter within 14 days stating that I would cancell the contract if they did not supply a non- Amstrad box. After 2 months if inaction a girl at Sky finally said, when I offered to cancel my contract, "You can't anyway sir, your 30 days are up!" - believe me, she said it in a very smug way. Not so smug when I pointed out that I had sent a letter with my intentions within 14 days of the purchase (within cooling off period) - she then immediately back tracked and supplied a Panasonic box.

    That, is not what I call service. That to me stinks.

    As for repairing Sky boxes out of warranty - had I been told that I would own the box after 12 months I would not have accepted a subsequent Grundig replacement several months later. I am now stuck with this bar buying a new one myself. Why should I?? they get £16 or whatever it is from me a month. Had I known before hand I would have bought an extended warranty at the very least.

    And what about Sky switching off the Dolby digital facility on other receivers so you have to buy a Sky "Plus" box to get it?

    These guys have a monopoly. Cable is for the select minority who can get it. I have never dealt with a company like them, and in my line of work I deal with a lot.

    As for the pricing, so I got it wrong. Thanks for correcting me.

    Take a chill pill boy
     
  19. Xeonic

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    It seems no discussion of sky+ can take place without it turning into a "$ky v TIVO" rant, what it is with these machines?? :rolleyes: I hope the starter of this thread can at least get a replacement box to see if that is the cure for the somewhat serious problems, software bugs aside, and see some of the useful facilities that others have mentioned.

    I hope starburst continues to provide help as done in many previous posts, in the face of brickwall arrogance and factual inaccuracies. Sky do not have a monopoly on sat programming - any mainland european citizen can get a dish, one of numerous dvb sat boxes (echostar, nokia, strong...) and get a large number of astra/hotbird channels for nowt. With a legit French/Italian CAM, get films as well and more with "hex codes" if they so want.

    AFAIK the sony digibox is the only other one with a digital output, it is quite possible with its age that it needs a firmware/hardware update to output 5.1, nothing more sinister than that. Maybe sky are responsible for knackering the non-existent output on my ageing grundig box too :D
     
  20. Dodgey

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    "sky vs Tivo rant"? Read it again. I may have a Tivo but that's not the point I was making. I was saying I would never buy kit with a Sky receiver built in.

    Sky got Sony to make receivers. Sony included an optical out. Sky sussed this and had them disable it on new models. If you look on ebay the first Sony model fetches a premium because the optical out works. It was disabled on latter ones. It's well documented.

    As for factual innacuracies - so what? this is an area for contributions and opinions - so I was wrong - big deal it'll cost you £65 instead of my suggested £80. :eek:

    As for the monopoly - come on. I'm Joe consumer - I don't have the time or inclination to get some obscure satellite kit to pick up some obscure channels and some Dmac or whatever kit - I want ITV2, Discovery etc in one simple box. 2 people do this - Sky and cable, and cable is not available for a lot of us.

    And the general point was that there is no need to be aggressive with comments like "get your facts straight". It's like being in kindergarden.

    One should be able to ciontribute without someone getting all righteous. Free speech?
    I was simple agreeing with the original poster. You don't agree, hey ho.
     
  21. gringottsdirect

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  22. kelvin

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    I thought that the lack of Sky Digital recording ability on other digiboxes with optical outs (e.g. Sony) was related to the hardware not supporting it rather than Sky's decision to "turn off" the facility...

    AFAIK Sky+ is the only "Sky Product" that allows you to watch films in DD.

    Kelvin.
     
  23. gringottsdirect

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    Sky and Sony did not agree terms for this feature to be enabled, a software download could have solved the issue.
     
  24. plague1392

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    This thread seems to have gone a bit off track. Getting back to my original point, I thought I’d update you on how the seven day 70 programme test was going. All the programmes recorded on both boxes yesterday, but today the results are more like I expected. Three of the ten programmes disappeared from my listings before they recorded, but the rest for the next five days are still there. Losing 30% of the programmes is a good day in my experience.

    The other box “lost all programmes for this evening. Five on Sat and Sun, some for the rest of the week as well.” That’s more what I was expecting as that sort of thing happens constantly to me. I’m waiting until the 7 days are up before I phone Sky and give them hell. I’ll be threatening to cancel my subscription if it’s not sorted out, but unlike most people who make this threat to Sky I mean it. It’s just a waste of £26 a month because every series I want to watch is ruined by missing episodes, and if anything does record I don’t enjoy watching it because I’m so angry about the stuff I missed.

    The results weren’t what I was expecting though as I thought the same programmes would go missing on each box. While both boxes lost this evenings programmes mine didn’t lose the ones his lost for the coming days, though they may disappear later today. The fact that they both lost programmes around the same time shows that some event must be causing it to happen. Of course, there’s be more of a chance of a 5 year old finding what this event is than the Sky+ development team, mainly because the 5 year old would have a higher intelligence than the combined intelligence of the Sky+ development team.

    At least I’ve managed to show one person, who previously thought Sky+ was good, that’s it’s actually the biggest pile of junk you can buy. As he put it “What a joke!!!!!!!!”
     
  25. kelvin

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    I stand corrected :p ;)
     
  26. gringottsdirect

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    .......the second biggest pile of junk you can buy...perhaps :D
    If he thinks Skyplus+ is a joke, a Tivo will wet his pants !

    Actually, that's being unfair to Tivo, it's not that bad. When it first came out a few friends who saw mine, were curious, but never bought one. The same with Skyplus+.

    There is no point drawing out anti-Tivo posts, no point flogging a dead horse.
    Why not post a few of your disappearing " events " here instead, I for one am happy to test my Skyplus+. If they disappear for me (us) then it will be posted here for all to see.
    It is frustrating, I hope you solve your problem.
     
  27. plague1392

    plague1392
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    If you’re interested in an example of the disappearing events, today’s Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop scheduled recordings disappeared on both boxes before it either show was broadcast.

    It took a surprisingly long amount of time to draw up the list of 70 programmes for this week. In addition it takes about 15 minutes to set them, and because they take up a fairly large portion of the day it’s hard to record anything else. However, if you’re willing to spend the time setting it and having your Sky+ record facility more or less taken for the week I’ll be more than happy to come up with another 70 programmes for next week. The more people who experience the problem the better. Let me know if you’ll do it, though I fully understand if you don’t want to.

    If you’d like to try a scaled down test just set your Sky+ to record Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop every day for the next 7 days (CNX channel 244, and they’re on between 20:30 and 21:30). You’ll probably find at least one day worth will disappear within the week. Programmes disappear all week but things seem most likely to go on a Friday (it was last Friday I lost 24 programmes), so you might have to keep it going until next Friday to see some real action.

    If you do it I’d be really interested to know what happens.

    Incidentally, how does Tivo keep coming into this? I’m confused.
     
  28. gringottsdirect

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    No problem, I will try the scaled down test first, another half a dozen " events " if possible.
    I'll keep you posted....:)
     
  29. plague1392

    plague1392
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    Great stuff. Thanks :)

    I'm not sure if the disappearing program thing is channel dependant. It seems to happen most with CNX (the five days it's been running at least) and a fair bit with Fox Kids, so if you do want to try to get programmes to disappear they're probably the best ones to target.

    Not that I er...watch them a lot or...um, anything like that. My cover's blown. Cheese it!
     
  30. Starburst

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    It might be worth noting that each individual channel has control of their EPG data and if they reset their hardware that controls their EPG data or alter the program codes it can cause program planner entries to be removed from SKY+ as they are no longer valid.
    That circumstance is all too common, even the BBC went through a very bad time a few months ago with planner entries vanishing on a regular basis. Thread

    That "may" account for a few of your missing programs but not all of them or there would be more posts on the subject in this and other forums/newsgroups.
    I wonder if SKY+ can handle 70 odd planner entries at any one time, there must be a limit to the amount of data it can store and process, I very rarely set recording more than 24 hours in advance and then probably only half a dozen max which again "may" be relevant to the problem.

    I'll set the planner to record Star and Bebop as many times as I can this week (working nights so SKY+ won't be available every night) and I'll let you know if they disappear.
     

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