DVR failure = free sheep offal

Last night, our Sky+ box gave up it's battle and died.

For months now, the poor little TiVo wannabe has struggled with the digital equivalent of sanity. It periodically freezes up. It would drop things out of its memory at random intervals. It would struggle to keep up with input from the remote control. It would leave the milk out on the counter to spoil instead of putting it back in the refrigerator.

It's never been the swiftest kid on the block. Sky+ is about four years behind Tivo in software and user interface, but it's pretty much the only digital video recording game in town over here in Britain-land. And usually a hard power reset (i.e. unplugging it for a few minutes) was enough to shake the cobwebs loose and get it going again. It takes a lot for us to work up the nerve to actually call the Sky helpdesk. It's located someplace in the wilds of northernmost Scotland, to judge from the accents of the people manning the phones. Apparently, they took "off-shoring" to mean Orkney. I have an easier time deciphering the ramblings of Kim Jong-Il than I do understanding the accent of your typical Sky staff member.

But last night, my TV mocked every attempt to get it to record the X Factor. (Don't judge me. It's sadly the best thing on TV this time of year.) It screamed "Technical Fault" repeatedly and belched up something gritty, which meant I had to call the service line again, and arrange for an engineer to come out to give the box its last rites and replace it with a healthier - hopefully saner - version. Unfortunately, the first available opening is over two weeks away. Two weeks without pseudo-TiVo? What the hell? You expect me to watch TV real time? Are you serious, people?

I'm not exactly sure I understood her answer, but I think she promised to compensate us for the inconvenience with some credit to our monthly bill and a free haggis. I've got to admit, that's one thing I'd never get from TiVo.