Monday, April 18, 2016

Technological Neophytes on the Road

Friends and family ask about our favorite experience from our recent road trip. It is difficult to narrow down. I enjoyed our sojourn in San Antonio, a city experience, immediately followed by five days in Big Bend National Park, about as off the beaten track as one can get in this country. Traveling around the country we savored local and international cuisines, enjoyed wandering through museums and old mansions, had great fun observing a Mardi Gras parade…and the list goes on.

The conversation then veers to problems encountered along the way. One issue arose throughout the trip, a theme repeated at almost every stop.

Most of our accommodations were Airbnb apartments or homes, and we had to figure out how to work the TV. 

Sounds ridiculous, but at home we have one remote and one TV provider. Turn the TV on, choose the channel, turn the TV off. Simple, no steep learning curve.

Most lodgings had at least two remotes situated next to the TV. Every time we entered a new place different challenges faced us, and we started a new learning curve. There was no standardization.

It became a challenge to, first, turn on the TV.

User-friendly the systems were not.

Once on, we tried to figure out how to surf channels and find the channel guide. Sometimes locating volume controls became a frustrating hunting exercise. A couple of places offered surround sound but we could not decode the speakers.

Diverse systems greeted us – Comcast, DISH, DirectTV, and streaming services like ROKU, Netflix, Pandora, Hulu, and Amazon.

I have no idea what I am talking about.

We learned to find the station or program desired on ROKU and ‘open it’ with our personal laptop computer.

Sometimes we found one or two programs but could not find others.

We did not spend a lot of time agonizing over TVs. But occasionally we came home from a day of sightseeing worn out. An hour or so couch potatoing (is sitting on your butt considered an active verb?) seemed appealing. We also like to watch morning news. And as the Presidential circus campaign intensified we wanted to view the debates. The heated dialogue served as a vibrating lullaby to fall asleep by (think crashing waves…)

I guess user-friendly has different meanings to various constituencies. Young folks easily maneuver sophisticated systems utilizing multiple remotes. Hub and I, members of an older generation, did not grow up with a variety of electronic devices at our disposal. One TV graced my childhood home, black and white until the mid-60s when a color set invaded our living room.

My grandkids live too far away to stop by when we face electronic glitches at home. And try getting a Comcast customer service rep to help before the show you so desperately want to watch is over. Of course it is not offered On Demand, or was and is no longer, or will be in the future – for a short time.

Helpful folks suggest we subscribe to Netflix or Amazon Prime, and one day we might…but when home we do not watch a lot of TV.

Maybe we would if we found movies and programs worth watch.

On the other hand I look ahead to years, maybe decades from now, sitting comfortably in my rocker watching all the movies and shows missed over the years.

 Something to look forward to… 


  1. Interesting to learn you seem to have had good Airbnb experiences as have never used that service.

    I surely do know what you mean about the digital devices. There's no consistency with what I have and that my children must retrain me to use every time when I visit each of their distant homes.

  2. Hub here has at least 5 remotes by his TV-watching recliner and can use them two-fisted, Huluing, Amazoning, and Acorning away. So it's not necessarily generational. I can use two of them, but only to turn the TV on and off and to type in 808 for WGAL news. The rest is silence.

  3. How many college graduates does it take to turn on the TV?