December 26, 2008
In 2007, our household replaced cable TV with a family room PC. This is our continuing story how life is different for us.
One recent holiday, we went to Grandma's house. During the cooking, my eager grazing in the kitchen was deemed preventable, so I was invited to entertain at the TV.
Investigating the TV setup, there were three remote controls, each with a different purpose. This is a contrast to our home, where we have one remote for our family room PC. With patience, the mystery of which remote does what was solved through trial and error.
Next, I searched for the replay of a popular parade, which is readily available on Earthcam and other Internet sites. Such was in vain, as the TV had no on demand capability. While the DVR could have been set to record earlier in the day, it felt tactless to request, particularly in light of the extensive holiday preparations.
So, I set about to watch a live sporting event. On the Internet, I can watch a mosaic of live games on ESPN, but at Grandma's, it required patience to find a good game. After some futility with the on screen guide, I resorted to channel flipping, as most guys do. After about 70 flips, partially due to a commercial break, I found a good game. However, it was disappointing that the game could not restart from the beginning, as I would have with the Internet, or even be able to select camera angles, as with the online versions of NBC Sports and TNT.
When it was time to cut the turkey, I abandoned the dramatic finale of the game, knowing the highlights would be online when we returned home.
"How about music", my wife looked at me. At home, we could switch the computer to our favorite iTunes play lists, or select from hundreds of online holiday music stations. Glancing at the vinyl records on the shelf, I smiled and knew it was up to our host.
After the big meal, the kids asked for Dora and Mickey, which online, you can select what you want, when you want it. However, on the TV, the Nickelodeon and Disney channels were playing something less interesting for our kids. Much to my delight, the kids decided to join in blowing bubbles and laughing about silly things. Given the opportunity, my wife grabbed the nearest remote to check her e-mail, and soon remembered such would not work with cable TV.
The holiday ended with the family playing cards together, and the kids fell asleep on the drive home. It was a wonderful day, as well as an entertaining glimpse into once was.
We would dare not try to change Grandma's ways, as trips to her house are sentimental. For us, we enjoy the entertaining choices we have made, even if the family room PC is a touch early for mainstream. Sometimes, a taste of the past is a nice compliment to our sense of the future.