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All Those Remotes

September 22, 2012

I was on a visit to my parent’s place recently when my mother asked me to show them how to use their DVD player.  I felt a shudder immediately.  I’ve been through this before, but I agreed to see what I could do.  They have a cable converter that’s connected to their TV.  This is all they normally use, with one remote control.  They also have a DVD player that’s connected to a different input on the TV.  This sounds simple, but it’s far from it.

I told them I’d try to figure it out for myself first.  To begin, I needed the remote control for the TV.  Father handed me one.  When I examined it, I noticed that the brand name on it didn’t match their TV.  I said “This is for your old TV”.  “I need the remote for the new one”.  Father handed me another one.  This one did match.  I tried it out: nothing happened!  Father said “It’s probably the batteries”.  “Whenever I have trouble with a remote, I change the batteries”.  Now, I have many remotes at home.  I’ve never changed the batteries in them.  They only use battery power while the buttons are pushed.  They should last for years.

I opened the battery compartment: no batteries!  “Where do you keep the spare batteries?”  Father said “In that drawer over there”.  The drawer contained dozens of different batteries, rolling around.  I asked “Which are the new ones?”  Father said “Just keep trying them until you find a set that works”.  I picked out a new-looking set of batteries.  By some miracle, they worked.

Now I just had to figure out how to switch inputs on the TV, using this unfamiliar remote.  I tried a few likely buttons, but none of them worked.  I recalled from last time that a group of buttons enclosed by an engraved box were the correct ones.  Right!  One labelled `Source’ cycled through the various inputs.  I’m almost there.

Next I needed the remote for the DVD player.  I asked “Where is it?”  Father said “Look in the box that the DVD player came in”.  He was right.  It even had batteries.  I knew how to use this one because the DVD player was the same as the one I used to have.  Quickly I used it to power the DVD player on and open the drawer.  I popped in a DVD, used it again to close the drawer, and finally we all saw the movie appear on the screen.

Now, what did I do?  How do I explain it?  It was too complicated to explain.  I gave up.  I switched the TV back to the cable converter.  They have hundreds of TV channels there, including ones with movies.  They probably wouldn’t watch DVD movies anyway.

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