Adventures with technology

Turning on the TV, we’d see a gal from cable company Spectrum talking about the all-digital story. I’d click past her, thinking we were all set with a big modern flat-screen, and anyway wasn’t the digital thing old news?

Then I remembered the other, old little TV in my upstairs home office where I like to hear the PBS Newshour while working. So I finally listened to the gal, and it seemed I’d soon need a new gizmo, which they’d supply free. So I called the number and was told, yes, free . . . for a year, then there’d be a monthly charge. Screw that, I said (to myself). I asked if there was another option. The guy said Roku.

I knew nothing of Roku. Mentioning it to my wife, she said she had a Roku! A recent freebie, from her Great Courses program; didn’t know what to do with it.

She meanwhile suggested I could simply tune in to PBS on my desktop computer. But I’m a stubborn old cuss, and this is 2018, can’t I have a TV in my office if I want?

So I happily took the Roku device up there, turned around my little ancient TV to look for the port to connect it, and of course there wasn’t one.

So I needed a newer TV; no taller than 15 inches to fit on my shelf. Called various stores — no dice. I was finally told they just don’t make TVs that small any more.

Not long before, I’d wanted to replace my office lamp — simple thing with two spotlights adjustable on a pole. Went to three stores; no dice. Then I called a giant lighting specialty place. “They just don’t make lamps like that anymore.” Okay, so I’ll go to eBay, where you can find any old thing (like the obsolete walkmans I’ve thusly replaced several times). But no such lamps on eBay either.

But I did find a TV there — 19″ flat screen, brand new, 75 bucks, shipping included, which arrived in two days. (TV screens are measured diagonally to make them sound bigger; this fit on my shelf with room to spare.)

So I managed to get it set up and working, except of course no cable signal, needing instead the Roku, which did connect to it. Following the instructions in the Roku booklet, I got some screens with more instructions; had to dig up my wireless router password; go to a website on my computer to enter a code to get some software sent to the TV; then similarly to PBS’s website to enable the Roku to have intercourse with PBS.

So finally I had PBS on my TV screen. I was so proud of myself! I could bring up any number of past PBS shows. But simply watch PBS real-time? Uh-uh. Nothing I tried would allow that.

So I went back to the Roku booklet, hoping for a tech support number. Nope. Then to their website, clicking through a bunch of screens and FAQ answers. After much searching around, it sounded like watching PBS would actually require another piece of equipment, an antenna. Oy!

So I thought I’d try my luck calling Spectrum, expecting to hear, “Sorry, we don’t service Roku.” But to my surprise, the tech guy (sounded like in the Philippines) said sure, he’d walk me through it. This involved downloading onto the TV yet another software package, from Spectrum (which entailed laboriously picking out the letters S-P-E-C-T-R-U-M on one of those patience-shredding onscreen keypad thingies), and many further steps. Unfortunately, while trying to juggle the remotes for both the TV and Roku plus my phone, I accidentally disconnected the call. When I redialed, their system insisted on running an automated recording following up to the previous call simultaneously with one for the new call. Eventually I reached another tech guy and completed the process.

And lo, some PBS kids’ cartoon started playing on my little TV! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! He chortled in his joy.

Except that when I switch on the TV, PBS still doesn’t simply come on, I have to click through several screens. I timed it, 37 seconds. An eternity by modern tech standards. But I’m an old dinosaur, I guess I can live with that.

What occurs to me is this. I’m pretty smart. How do all the idiots out there (without a ten-year-old helping them) manage with this stuff?

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One Response to “Adventures with technology”

  1. DAN FAREK Says:

    WOW!!!! DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR? ANYTIME I BUY A NEW ELECTRONIC DEVICE, IT WILL NOT WORK FOR ME.. OF COURSE I AM 78 YEARS OLD AND GREW UP IN THE DAYS OF PUSH-PULL AND WIND-UP TOYS!!!
    BUT I SEEMS TO ME THAT THE ELECTRONIC GEEKS TRY TO MAKE THING COMPLICATED. THEY NEED TO LEARN THE “K.I.S.S.” PRINCIPLE, I.E.,, “KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID”.
    DAN

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