Saturday, 20 November 2010

Why does modern technology

have to be so complicated? It woke me and kept me awake last night.
We bought a new television set some time ago. We do not really watch enough television to justify having a television set, let alone a new one. The problem was that we are going from analogue to digital and our venerable old set (around 35 years of age) would not receive the new signal unless we had something called a "set top box" - and that meant yet another gadget-gun as well as the likelihood that there could, given the vagaries of reception, be more problems. My BIL weighed everything up and said, "Go for a new telly. It will be easier on Dad."
Right? Wrong. The new television set came with all sorts of fancy instructions. I finally sorted everything out and simplified. You push the green button to start. If it is not the channel you want then you push 2 for the ABC and 3 for SBS. (These are the only two stations we are likely to watch.) The button on the extreme left is the mute button - used by us to turn off the sound on the advertising on SBS - and the one to the right of it adjusts the sound. That is all you need to know in order to watch television.
Now, we have that about right. My father can manage that. He may be nearly 88 but he is still mentally competent and quite able to learn something like that.
What defeats him is the business of playing a DVD, something he occasionally borrows from the library or playing a video. My youngest sibling sent him a video of comedy greats. It arrived in the mail yesterday. He thought he should have a look at it last night. After an hour or more of trying to get the thing to work he consulted me. I told him that I would work it out today as, at about 10pm, it was a little late to start watching something that lasted more than two hours. He is usually in bed a little after ten. He agreed but said, "I don't know what that funny little orange light there is for."
I didn't know either. The manual (written in appalling and almost indecipherable pseudo-English) said nothing about it. The television set was turned off by now so we both gave up and went to bed. This was a mistake.
Fast forward to 1:54am. I woke to the noise of voices. There was a light under my door. What in the heck was going on? Did he decide not to go to bed after all. Had someone called in an emergency? Surely I would have heard the door bell.
I climbed blearily out of bed and went to investigate. It was none of those things. The television set was on. There was a French film showing on SBS. It took me a little time to make sense of all this. I could not find the control unit to turn it off either. Did he wander off with that on his walker? No. Eventually I found it in the wrong place. I turned the television set off. The little orange light had gone out. It was obviously some sort of timer.
I crawled back to bed but did not go back to sleep. Why does modern technology have to be so complicated that I have to lose sleep over it?


virtualquilter said...

We often get into trouble when we visit my Dad .... if we don't do things exactly the way hwe does he can't get it to work next time he tries!
I have learned to make sure he turns everything off the last time it is turned on before I leave! The main concerns are withthe TV?VHS/DVD combination, but extends to the microwave and washing machine!

catdownunder said...

The microwave is something my father can use - providing he only has to heat something up! The washing machine? I deal with that!
(But, joking aside, I have to say he is marvellous about doing things when I ask and still insists it is his task to sweep the floor every day, wipe up and take the food scraps to the compost bin. I love him for all of that!)