fun with consumer electronics (and the perils of the super-remote)
So, I’m on vacation here at my in-laws, and I’m blogging of course.
It seems to be my new morning ritual, instead of reading the newspaper.
Anyway, there are hordes of kids running around everywhere, so to keep them entertained,
some adult-types went into the basement to put some ‘Barney’ on the TV.
Well, unfortunately, things did not work out well. You see, my father-in-law
has recently set up a very nice home theatre system in the basement. He’s
got the large-screen TV, the surround-sound TV, and to wrap it all up, a “super-remote”
that he spent countless hours programming to send just the right series of signals
to all the different components to coordinate things like ‘turning on the power’,
‘turning off the power’, and ‘watching a DVD’.
So Gina calls me down, saying “Bruce, we need your help! The sound isn’t
working on the TV!” I come down, and start fiddling with the super-remote,
trying to get the right combination of instructions to get all the components in sync,
and agreeing that “yes, we will now deign to obey your commands and allow you
to hear the melodious sounds of the big purple dinosaur.” All of the sudden,
Al (the father-in-law) comes barreling into the room. “Oh, no!”
he cries, as he sees the carefully constructed, synchronized workings of his super-remote
turned into shambles. “How did you turn it on?” he asked.
“We pushed the power button on the TV,” is the reply. This, of course,
is incorrect – one must only use the super-remote for all home theatre manipulations,
so that it can properly coordinate all the various hi-fi components associated with
So, Al took command, fiddled with buttons and dials and LEDs for a while, and got
it all straightened out. In the process, though, I wondered if there might not
be a better way. Perhaps, for those people who choose to invest in expensive
super-remotes, the stereo component manufacturers could offer an option to turn off
all the buttons and dials on the front of the equipment, and only allow them to be
manipulated by the super-remote. Then at least folks would be forced to use
said super-remote, and be more likely to get the incantations correct to ensure proper
functioning of the shrine.
Of course, the super-remote has a billion buttons as well, so I suppose that just
opens up a fresh can of worms…
Where is that Star Trek system when you need it? “Computer, play Barney
please; season two, episode five. Low volume, please, targeted at the portions
of the room containing diminutive, hyperactive humanoids.”