Chris Worfolk's Blog


NFL offer refunds to European customers

October 13th, 2017 | Sport

On Tuesday, the NFL announced they would be partially refunding all of their European Game Pass customers because of the problems people experienced with the streaming service.

The announcement comes just six hours after I published my article setting out the problems. I’m not saying my blog post was solely responsible for their announcement, but the timing is clearly too similar to ignore.

They’re giving everyone 20% back, which is fair, though not beyond expectations.

However, the real test will be whether they sort the streaming issues out. Roll on Sunday…

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October 12th, 2017 | Business & Marketing

I’m not sure Leeds City Council have quite mastered this marketing thing yet…

Richard Thaler’s long overdue Nobel prize

October 11th, 2017 | News, Thoughts

This week, it was announced that Richard Thaler had been awarded the Nobel prize for economics. It is long overdue. Here is why.

Thaler is best known for his 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness which he co-authored with Cass Sunstein. He was a summation of his many years of work on behavioural economics. You can read my review here.

This understates his contribution though: Thaler is considered by many to be the father of behavioural economics.

To understand why that is important, we need to look at what behavioural economics is. Economics, as a subject, has been around for thousands of years. Except that in many ways it really hasn’t. Traditionally, at least in recent tradition, it has focused on building financial models based on people making perfectly rational decisions.

Take the free market, for example. If you put prices up, you decrease demand. It’s nice and simple.

But then Thaler came along and said: “hang on, do people act like rational beings all of the time?” The answer, of course, was no. And a new field of economics was born: behavioural economics. The study of what people actually do.

But what exactly is non-behavioural economics? The more you think about it, the more you realise that we can basically can anything we thought we knew about economics beforehand, because all economics should be behavioural economics. Models that use “econs” rather than “humans” do not work in the real world. Which is where all research should eventually have some kind of relevance.

So, well done to the Nobel prize selection committee for making such an excellent choice. In a perfect world, it would have happened much sooner. But the selection committee, like the rest of us, are humans, not econs.

NFL Game Pass: A story of broken promises

October 10th, 2017 | Reviews

NFL Game Pass is an internet streaming service. You pay around £140 per year and get access to live streams of all of the games. Except if Sky Sports is showing them, in which case they’re blacked out. You also get on-demand replays of the games.

Or that is the theory. Except, this year more than most, the NFL has been unable to deliver on their side of the bargain.

Broken TV apps

Let’s start with Apple TV. The app just doesn’t work anymore. At all. If you try and use it, it just says that they are migrating to a new app. But there is no App Store on the old Apple TV, so it doesn’t work, that’s just tough luck.

And broken tablet apps

The iOS app does not seem to be fairing much better. Here is the endless spinning of the login screen:

This is probably one of the many reasons why they have managed to score a total of 1 star on the App Store reviews system:

Browsers not working

I used to use Firefox to watch the video streams on my desktop. But that is no longer an option because the sound doesn’t work any more. So, I’ve been forced to switch to Chrome instead.

Video streams constantly freezing

In week four, as customers often experience, the video streams would often freeze up or drop to an unwatchably low quality. Yet, when you contact the NFL about this, they blame it on your connection.

In fact, we have become so used to this now that we are forced to run a speed test alongside the stream in preparation for the NFL blaming it on us. Here is mine:

With enough speed to watch 30 simultaneous Netflix shows, it seems unlikely that the problem is at my end. Or the many other ends from which people are complaining.

Video streams not working

Week 5, things got worse. The website wouldn’t load and nor would any of the streams. You either got stuck on accessing the website itself:

Or, if you were lucky enough to get through, you got no video:

It eventually started working at 7:23 pm, almost an hour and a half after kick-off, and four scores into the game.

Customer service not even responding

After week 4, I send out a full and detailed complaint setting out why I thought the NFL’s service was unacceptable and that they were failing to provide the service I was paying for.

I would post it here, in full, except I cannot because the NFL did not give me a copy of it, or ever respond to it. You have to use their online contact form to send your message, and they do not seem to respond to them or even acknowledge their existence.

I’m not the only person they are ignoring:

Fake reviews

BBC journalist Mark Simpson has been on the case to the NFL. He questioned them about it, and they said: “we have a 99.3% reliability”. Which is terrible, of course. Data centres typically offer you a 5/9 reliably, which is 99.999%. 99.3% does not cut it, especially when the .7 is when the games are actually on.

Here is the interview:

And it turns out that to try and cover up how poor the apps were, staff have been faking reviews to make it look better than it was:

The Independent covered the story, as did NBC Sports.

An army of disappointed fans

A quick search of Twitter shows how many people are having problems. While the NFL put out insulting tweets saying:

We are aware of an issue that some users may be having. We’re working to get it fixed as quickly as possible.

Note that “some users” seems to be the whole of the UK and Europe. 20 tweets a second were appearing from angry users during Sunday’s 6pm kick-off.

Yorkshire 10 Mile

October 9th, 2017 | Sport

Early October means the Yorkshire Marathon Festival. It’s a “festival” because not only is there the Yorkshire Marathon but they also run a 10-mile race alongside it. It’s set on the streets of York which makes for a flat course.

Route

The route starts out on the university campus. It runs into town, going around the minster and then leads out into the countryside. At five miles the marathon and 10-mile split before joining back together later on.

There is only one hill in the whole of York and it is at the start and finish straight. This is the worst design ever: at the start, you go down the hill, when you’re fresh and bottlenecked in so you can’t take advantage of it. On the way back you’re exhausted and have to up the thing.

It takes in a lot of lovely scenery. However, the sections through the centre of York are often cobbled, uneven and cramped, so you have to spend your whole time watching where you are going. Once you get out into the country you can relax a little more.

Organisation

The event was well organised. They had several transport routes including a park and run option and a city shuttle bus. I decided to get an Airbnb in the centre and then get the shuttle bus over. I didn’t turn up until 9:30 am and still managed to get to the start by the time the race kicked off: 10:15 am.

Here is me on the bus:

As soon as I finished there was a bus to take me back, too. There were some queues for another bus, which I think was the park and run. That did not open until noon, which is after some of the 10 milers finish, so that could explain it.

There were plenty of toilets and separate urinals. There were not many pacers, but those that were there had the big flags that Run For All always put on.

The only confusing thing was the event village. You get off the bus and then it is quite a walk to the start and finish line. Not only does this add a lot of walking but it is quite confusing to find. On the way there I followed everyone else. However, on the way back I had to find my own way and got confused several times.

Goody bag

I’m going to have to give them a D for goody pack quality. It had three chocolate-type bars in there. But two of them had peanut in: not much use for anyone with an allergy, or merely a strong dislike of peanuts. And the shoestring sweets where impossible to tear into.

York as a city

York is a beautiful city as most of us know. However, accessible it is not. Anyone with a pram (like us), wheelchair or simply limited mobility is in for a rough time. It’s not just that the buildings are inaccessible and the streets are cobbled. It’s that the pavements are often small, broken and badly maintained. This makes it very difficult to get around if you are not a fit and healthy adult.

Results

I haven’t been doing much long distance stuff since the Leeds Half Marathon 2017 and have been ill for the last couple of weeks so I set myself some fairly relaxed target of 1:36:00. My stretch target was 1:30:00 as this would indicate whether I would be able to go sub-2 hours in the next half marathon (of course, Leeds is a lot less flat).

In the end, I felt pretty good on the day and brought it home in 1:27:30, two and a half minutes ahead of my stretch target.

1:27:30

Here is me at the end:

I waited around for the first marathon runner to finish. I thought they would finish before me: 90 minutes running plus 45 minutes head start means they only needed to run a 2:15:00 to beat me back. As it happens, the first runner didn’t make it back until 2:24 something. Far faster than I could ever run it, but a good 22 minutes behind the world record. He was also white, which suggests that serious marathon runners don’t come to York.

Speaking of unusually white people, here is Venla with my medal:

My new trainers have been causing a few blisters on my longer runs (anything above 10k) so I was quite pleased that I finally put enough vaseline on my toes to keep them healthy.

Summary

This was a fun event and good test for me to see how running a race away from home worked out (everything in Leeds starts next to my house). I am looking forward to going back to the festival next year.

It’s a good race to do if you want to avoid hills and see some nice scenary, as long as you’re willing to brave the transport challenges.

Baby-free day

October 7th, 2017 | Life

It’s been a horrible few weeks in the Worfolk household. We had food poisoning, then Venla got a cold, then we got her cold, then Venla got another cold, then we got that cold, then I had to have some dentistry work, the list goes on.

But, as we adapt to our new lifestyle: Venla in daycare, Elina back at work, me studying, we have finally seen some benefit.

For example, if we line up Elina’s holidays with my study days, we can do things without a baby. Like a romantic cycle ride. On two bicycles each made for one.

We made it as far as the Abbey Inn.

Our aim was to have a quiet lunch outside as we enjoyed some autumn sun. This what somewhat foiled by the delivery lorry turning up, and the family that turned up and decided to sit right next to us, but was much brightened by running it to our friend Robin.

The food was poor, but the pub was nice. Given that decided to skip dessert and get a piece of cake from The Stables on the way back, instead.

Yesterday, I cycled past a dead body

October 6th, 2017 | Life

I regularly cycle up and down the canal towpath and often think to myself “I hope I don’t fall in – all of my stuff would get wet, and I would too, which could be unpleasant or maybe even dangerous, on a cold day.”

But, having lived in Leeds for the past few decades, I should be aware that the real risk is not falling into the two feet of water. It’s not being able to get out because you’re being torn apart by inferi.

Yesterday, Elina had the day off, so I took a break from studying so that we could go for a bike ride. We returned around 3:30 pm. Then, at 4:45 pm, this happened:

It is possible the body went into the canal in the hour between us getting home and someone else spotting it. But, more likely, it was already there when we cycled past it.

It was just around the corner from our house, so the entire street was lined with emergency service vehicles. Who knew Leeds had a CSI? I hope David Caruso is available to play the TV adaptation.

Beyond the jokes, though, it is no doubt a sad occasion. Bodies do turn up with an uncomfortable regularity, but usually, it’s a drunken student far downstream. Let’s hope it’s a high-end sex robot that someone has mistaken for a real human.

Fake It ‘Till You Feel It

October 4th, 2017 | Public Speaking

This is my speech for the 2017 humorous speaking contest at Toastmasters.

Panini at Leeds Beckett

October 3rd, 2017 | Photos

Today we continue my series on people who cannot spell panini.

This shop I found in May, for example. They have at least worked out that there should not be an apostrophe there.

Leeds Beckett has not, however.

Even if the word panini was the singular form, why would you add an apostrophe there?

NFL coverage will resume

October 2nd, 2017 | Distractions

The title card says:

Coverage will resume momentarily

Which, of course, means that coverage will return but only for a moment. Which sounds about right with the number of adverts they have in the US.