Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I DO love technology. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't go too far without some form of gadgetry, but sometimes, this stuff is just a huge pain in the ass.

Right now, I'm trying to get my TV set up. It's not so long ago when I remember having a giant antenna on the roof of the house that would sometimes need adjusting after some strong winds. Then cable TV came along and changed everything. With a connection from the outside cable to a cable box to the TV, we had clear signals and oh so many channels. Adding a VCR in to the mix, or, to really get crazy, adding a video game system (Atari 2600), would really be fancy. I remember taking things to the next level by having two VCRs in parallel to copy tapes and having external speakers for better sound.

Then, I totally lost interest because for me, TV is not worth the effort. I don't spend hours watching other people's reality (I have my own), and I'm saddened when I see other people's houses that appear to be centered around a giant TV as if it's the focal point of their lives.

I will watch a DVD, or watch TV if there is something specific on, or maybe just sit in front of the TV when I want to turn my brain off, but in total, my monthly viewing hours is, on average, 4-6hrs, probably much less. So again, I don't care enough about TV to put a lot of effort in to getting it set up.

Unfortunately, it seems that the days of plugging in and turning on are gone, and with the advent of "home theater surround sound systems" you either need to be an expert or you need to hire an expert just to get everything plugged in correctly.

As it was, I hated our most recent TV system. We had a remote control for the TV, the cable box, the DVD player, the stereo receiver, and the Roku player. Life was somewhat simpler when I had a universal remote control, but Jesus Christ, I had to connect the universal remote control to my laptop, log in to the Logitech Web site, create an account, blah, blah, blah… And even after figuring out the model numbers for all the components, it still took a couple of tries with updates and restarts to get it working. It was finally much easier, but still didn't work 100%. In terms of being worth the effort, I definitely put more time into getting the remote set up than I would actually watching TV for the month. That was enough to fill me with hate.

But that was then. Now, we have a new house and with it, a new TV system. Flat screen to mount on the wall, and an entirely new configuration for the additional componentry. Doing the wiring for the TV to the componentry was pretty straight forward… We have a HDMI cable going from one room, down to the basement, and up the wall to the TV. I understand that. Getting power to the TV via a new outlet was pretty standard too. Mounting the TV to the wall took some special skills, and thankfully, I have a good friend who is an architect wiz and he quickly sketched out a solution. Thanks to Glen, my TV is safely and securely mounted to the wall. Without wall studs, I was lost.

Okay, so with the TV mounted, and the HDMI cable going through the wall , through the basement and up to the "components," you'd think the hard work was done. Not so.

Next I had to rely on another person smarter than I. Enter James, who tells me, "I do this shit for fun." Great, I leave it up to you, James, to figure out the HDMI pass through and to program my universal remote and to figure out how we'll have the remote control work on both the TV AND the components, which are behind the viewing area, in another room.

While that process is still underway, I thought I'd take it upon myself to set up one of the Roku players on another TV (did I mention that I hate TV? I do this for my wife…). Anyway, our previous Roku was right next to our modem and router, so it was wired via ethernet to the router and had direct Internet access. Simple. I was told, however, that all Roku boxes are WiFi enabled and can access the Internet wirelessly. Great, because the modem/router is now in our basement.

This is when things got annoying. With other WiFi devices, the network is identified, I enter the password, and I'm connected. If only it was that simple with the Roku.

I had to do some online support with Naga, Venkat, and Vijay, and between them and me, we've accessed the wireless router, adjusted the channel settings, changed DNS settings, modified the firewall, turned everything off, turned everything on, hit the reset button many, many times, and I'm still no closer to being connected than I was before. The coolest part of this process was the fact that I was getting support online, so every time I made a change to the router, my Internet connection would be lost for a moment, so I had to start over with a new techie. Sigh…

I love technology, but sometimes you just can't beat a book*

*Read, of course, on an iPad

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