We have three televisions in our house, all fairly new, all flat-screen. Yessir, we’re on technology’s cutting edge. The only problem is, two of them don’t work, or at least they don’t work for us.
The TV on our top floor, a 32 inch Sanyo, shows me one of three things when I turn it on: 1) a “no signal” message jumping around the screen like a rabbit, or 2) a Direct TV logo that performs a hypnotic dance around the screen, or 3) my favorite…snow. Loud, annoying snow.
I have three remote controls for this TV–a Sanyo, a Direct TV and a Sony–and among them, they have exactly 127 buttons to push. I have pushed all of those buttons many times, and many in combination with each other….and still I get either 1) the no signal message 2) the dancing Direct TV icon, or 3) snow.
Now our second floor TV, a Sharp, is a little simpler. Only two remotes there and roughly 90 buttons to push. When I turn that TV on, I get only snow, even when I push all the buttons. After two minutes of snow and frantic button-pushing, I generally lose interest and turn it off.
That’s when I go downstairs and turn on our third TV, a Samsung. It works. It actually shows TV programs with understandable sound. But there is a caveat. You have to use both remotes–one to turn on the TV and regulate the sound, and the other to switch the channels, and God forbid that you ever push the wrong button on either because you could end up with 1) the jumping “no signal” message 2) the dancing “Direct TV” icon, or 3) snow.
A simple question: Why do I need three remotes and 127 buttons to watch “Morning Joe” or “The Voice” or NFL football?
My problems don’t end there. I spent 45 minutes on the phone the other night speaking to a very polite young man with a thick Indian accent who eventually enabled me to restore the Internet to my computer. It probably should have taken only five minutes, but given my utter technical incompetence and my inability to understand him sometimes, we shared a good, long, sometimes challenging conversation. The thing is, his English was perfect, better than mine. I wonder if he had as much trouble understanding me as I had understanding him.
My other outstanding problem these days is my computer’s printer. It doesn’t print and no, there’s no paper jam. It just sits there on a shelf, flashing a green light and mocking me. It currently has several tasks queued up for it, all of which I’d like to cancel, but I don’t know how. I’ve pushed every key and button I can find, but nothing works. My solution? I’ve disconnected the power cord for the printer. The green light is no longer mocking me.
So here I sit, in the midst of an historic technological revolution, but I’m being held captive by it. I’m bound and gagged and being mocked by machines.
And yet, you know what? What I’d really like to get is an iPad. From what I’ve heard, it doesn’t have anything close to 127 buttons.