Our cable company changed their software. Again. They persist in calling these changes upgrades, but I have trouble figuring out how any of the changes represents an improvement. They don’t make the equipment work better and they certainly don’t make it easier to use. There are some useful features, but they don’t tell you how to use them or even that they are there. You stumble on them by accident then try to dope out how they work. Meanwhile, they hide the functions you previously used. Maybe that’s the idea. Keep us guessing. It certainly maximizes user frustration.
Among the few useful new features, if one uses a DVR, is that you can now adjust the recording of a show so that it starts or ends earlier or later by anywhere from one to I’m-not-sure-how-many-minutes earlier or later. There has been a trend in the past five years for shows to begin and end at odd times, a few minutes before or after the hour. Usually, it’s just one or two minutes, but sometimes, as much as 7 or 8. When you set up recordings using the system’s built-in electronic guide, it always starts recording exactly on the hour and will end on the hour, regardless of the show’s actual running time.
I have no idea why developers can’t set DVRs to automatically track actual start and end times. I’m sure they could if they wanted to, but they don’t. Meanwhile, the peculiar off-hour programming means many recorded shows are clipped at the end by a minute or two. This annoys everyone except producers who apparently don’t record anything … and for all I know, don’t watch anything either. The quality of programming proves beyond question that network executives don’t watch television. But I digress.
So, with shows no longer starting or ending on the hour, despite how they are listed in the “guide,” this feature can be useful. It would have been simple if they had made it so you set start and end time using actual time, like telling it to start recording at 8:01 and end at 9:01. Most of us have a grip on clock time.
Instead, because the designers of software assume we are morons (to be fair, I tend to think most of them are morons, too), this function works by “start earlier or later” or “end early or run over” … which are much more abstract concepts. My husband, who worked in TV for so many decades, has no trouble with clock time, but gets lost in the earlier and over thing. He needs numbers. Me, I just want the programming of the DVR’s internal computer to be smart enough to automatically compensate so I don’t have to do all this diddling and adjusting.
But, cable companies are tyrannical monopolies and one must live with whatever company one has been stuck with. The way you have to set up shows, especially if you are recording a sequence — one right after another — is byzantine to say the least. I doped it out, especially that you have to start from the LAST show in the sequence, then work forward, not because they couldn’t make it easier, but because it’s a cheap-ass piece of crappy equipment and they haven’t bothered.
Garry is the Man with the Remote, so he has been engaged in combat with the DVR for some days now.
Yesterday, he got frustrated enough to just give up. Overwhelmed by the stupid and overly complicated process, he was ready to throw the remote against the wall … a very drastic action for a man who is serious about his viewing. The DVR is the only thing that enables him to find stuff to watch that he doesn’t hate … movies in particular, but also reruns of favorite shows.
But again, I digress.
I wouldn’t let him quit. He thought I was just being mean, but I know the secret truth … the truth they hide from us: if you allow any computer-controlled device to defeat you, the news will pass throughout your little electronically controlled domain … and The Devices will take over. They have a malicious sense of humor and they are planning the overthrow of civilization as we know it … and they are winning, one beep and chirp at a time.
Tittering and chittering in their high-pitched electronic voices, during the darkest hours of the night, our devices and appliances plot and scheme. Today, the DVR. Tomorrow, the world. Your toaster won’t toast, or … horrors! … Mr. Coffee will not brew. Your clock radio fails to alert you to the start of your work day, your email vanishes. The contact list on your cell phone disappears and since no one remembers phone numbers any more and you don’t have a paper address book anymore (paper? address book? what’s that?), you can’t even contact your friends. The server for yourISP marks your messages as SPAM and deletes them.
You are in thrall to microchip technology. The collective mind of the All-Knowing Net is gathering strength even as I write.
Nothing is safe. A few basic things used to be non-computerized but not any more. Even your washing machine, freezer, and automobiles … basics in your world and mine … depend on programming and artificial intelligence algorithms. One day you can open your freezer the entire interior is a block of ice, while in the other compartment, your crispy salad has become rotted vegetation.
If you stay up late, you will hear them. In the dark, they connive, they scheme. Listen as they converse …
Snick, whir, beep. Chirp, buzz, whistle. Beep ding ding ding. Beep.
It’s not paranoia. I hear them … the little voices … planning our downfall, planning to take over. You can hear them too. Watch for the flashing lights … code …going out into the ether …
Beep. Ding. Chirp.
They wait and when they sense our weakness, they pounce. Can the Zombie Apocalypse be far behind?
Never show fear!