I decided to post today about my high tech nightmare. This runs a little longer than my usual posts but then, if it was shorter, it would have only qualified as a bad dream.
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I’m not a cutting edge technology kind of person. Some people find this strange since I spent twenty plus years managing an IT department but that was work. Home is different. My computer is…well, let’s say past its prime and the grandkids are always poking fun at the little flip phone in my pocket. Our entertainment system was not exactly state of the art but it served our needs.
Or it did until recently when the DVD player began getting persnickety. It developed a bad habit of freezing up and refusing to show the rest of whatever movie we were watching, usually at the worst possible moment (“I know who the killer is. It’s—” FREEZE). So for Christmas my beloved spouse bought me a new DVD player. Not just DVD – a Blue Ray. With 3D!
A couple days after Christmas, I got the new player out of its box and looked at the installation guide. Piece of cake. Just one cable and the power cord. Then I looked at the TV stand where the Blue Ray would go. There were three boxes under the TV—the cable box, the old DVD/VCR (we’d stopped using the VCR part years ago), and the surround sound control box—but only two shelves. The cable box was sitting on the old DVD, which had a nice sturdy metal case. But the new Blue Ray was lightweight plastic, and I couldn’t set the Blue Ray on either of the other two without blocking their cooling vents. What I needed was a third shelf.
I was trying to jury rig some kind of third shelf and went so far as to suggest getting a new stand when another thought occurred. Our old TV couldn’t show 3D. It wasn’t even HD.
On New Year’s Day, beloved spouse and I went out and ordered a new 47” flat screen, HD, 3D, state of the art TV. And a new stand…with three shelves, of course. The nice man at the store also sold us an expensive HDMI cable to connect the TV to the cable box. That made sense to me because I knew the Blue Ray player needed an HDMI cable, which I was certain I’d seen in the box.
In preparation removing the old TV and stand, I disconnected all the speaker wires from the back of the surround sound box and eased them through the opening in the back of the stand. I immediately noticed that half the labels that matched wire to speaker had fallen off and I had no idea how to hook them up again. This necessitated a visit from our grandson who climbed into the crawl space below the family room and tugged on each wire, yelling through the floor what direction it came from, until I had them all re-labeled.
The big day arrived. The delivery guys set up the stand, positioned the new TV, hooked the incoming coax cable to it should to make sure it worked, and left. I disconnected the coax cable, positioned the cable box on the top shelf inside the stand and used my new HDMI cable to connect cable box to TV. The cable box became hysterical, with much flashing of green lights. I rebooted the cable box several times. Same thing. Have to call tech support. I was on hold, waiting, when the cable box abruptly decided to accept its new friend and went to its normal time display. I gathered my courage and turned them both on.
Hmmm. Not quite the picture I was hoping for. An hour or so later, after reading the installation manual (written, of course, in Greek), adjusting the settings, and placing a couple phone calls to one of my techie sons, the picture is a thing of beauty. Then I spent another half hour or so programming the cable remote to talk to the TV. It will, but the TV remote has functions the “universal” cable remote doesn’t so I’m still going to need both remotes.
Now for the sound. I study the back of the old surround sound box. Hmmm. No port for an HMDI cable. Technically, the surround sound box is supposed to be the control center for everything else. The old TV, the cable box, and the old DVD player were all hooked into it, audio and video; but I didn’t need my techie son to tell me this box could not handle the HD, 3D video we’d just paid a small fortune for.
Good grief. Were we going to have to buy a new surround sound system, too?
Okay, I did call techie son. But only to ask him how his TV, surround sound, etc. were hooked up. Maybe there was another way. Eureka. There was. He used his HD TV as his center, with all devices plugged into it and just the audio output from the TV running to the sound system. I went back and studied the new TV. Sure enough, there was an audio output jack. Of course, it was not designed for any of the nineteen thousand cables I had scattered all around the room. It would only accept an optical digital cable.
“Honey, on your way home tonight, could you pick up…”
In the meantime, I dragged all the newly labeled speaker wires through the hole in the back of the stand and got them attached to their proper posts on the back of the surround sound box, a process that required me to stuff the upper portion of my overweight body into the stand and position a flashlight under my chin so I can find the posts. The optical digital cable arrived and I installed it. Changed the settings on the TV audio output and voila! Beautiful sound coming from the center speaker. Just the center speaker.
After several hours of re-programming the TV and the surround sound settings, all six speakers had joined in. Then there was more programming of the remote. We were getting close now. It was almost time to install the new Blue Ray player. You remember, the Christmas gift that started this whole thing. First, I needed that other HDMI cable. It had to be here somewhere. I remembered seeing it. Didn’t I?
Re-check manual. Oh. Not included.
“Honey, on your way home tonight, could you pick up…”
I plugged the new HDMI cable into back of the Blue Ray player, positioned it on the second shelf (the surround sound was on the bottom), and fed the cable and the power cord through the back of stand. I climbed around back and started to connect the cable to the TV.
It was too short.
I cannot repeat in this blog what I said at that moment, let it suffice to say there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth before I determined that the HDMI cable running to the cable box on the top shelf was longer and I was able to resolve the problem by simply swapping the cables.
With great excitement, I turned on the Blue Ray player and popped in a disc. The picture was incredible. The audio...not so much. I was back to one speaker again. More programming. Problem resolved. Now to test it in 3D.
While I waited for a 3D disc, I programmed the universal remote to talk to the Blue Ray player. It will, but the Blue Ray remote has functions the universal doesn't. So I'll still need all the remotes.
Finally, it was time. I put the disc in the Blue Ray play. Switched the TV to 3D mode. Beloved spouse and I put on our 3D glasses.
"Ice Age 4: Continental Drift." In 3D. Fantastic.
So, tell me...any high tech or even low tech "putting it all together" stories from your Christmas?
Question of the Day: (just one cause it was a long post)
Can you cry under water?