Y'all are a bunch of wankers!

On The Difficulty Of Remote Controls & VCRs

I wonder if my MIL's unwillingness to learn how to change settings on her VCR is similar to my feelings on being done with learning things.  You know, something along the lines of "I learned how to set the last VCR, and the one before that, why do I have to learn it AGAIN?" Followed by vague grumblings about how technology is too hard.  I could totally see myself doing it, and I'm a programmer. :)
Permalink the great purple 
March 12th, 2007 2:41pm
Buttons generally have labels on them.  A literate person should only need a few minutes to figure out how to set up a bit of electronics.

Unless it's a cheap-o Brand X unit with some obscure combination of key presses to change the date/time.  They all used to be that way, but it hasn't been so for a long time.  Most electronics now have a fairly intuitive interface, and some even have graphical menus like my camcorder or my photo printer.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
March 12th, 2007 2:44pm
I press play and let the thing blink 12:00.  Recording is for Tivos.
Permalink zed 
March 12th, 2007 2:47pm
Ha.  I once tried to figure out how to switch from tv to vcr at my parents house.  I was presented with three different remote controls, one of which had no less than one hundred brightly colored buttons.  By the time you even figure out which remote control goes to which device you're ready to give up.  And mostly people can figure out how to put a tape in the vcr and watch it; the difficulty comes when you want it to record when you're not home.
Permalink the great purple 
March 12th, 2007 2:49pm
It's a good thing that we can blame it on bad usability. I'll be surprised if someone has regularly used the VCR to record programs when they aren't there.

I get to watch TV alone now and then. But if a movie is played on a DVD, some friend or someone is always there and whoever it is, I make sure they take control of the remote. I just use the On/Off and +/- for volume and channels :-)
Permalink Send private email Senthilnathan N.S. 
March 12th, 2007 3:07pm
"be surprised if someone has regularly used the VCR to record programs when they aren't there."

Seriously?  Isn't this the whole point of VCRs?  Not all of us have or can afford Tivos or DVR...
Permalink the great purple 
March 12th, 2007 3:19pm
i think it has to do with perceived return on investment.

it takes X amount of effort to learn how to do task A to receive a return of Y.  however, at this moment, X seems to be too great a cost in order for such a small return of Y.

people rarely properly amortize their repeated returns for investing their time and effort once. 

'tis human nature.

as for why your MIL was willing to do it before: the perceived difficulty (cost X) was less, and the perceived return (Y) of getting to watch your shows later was greater.  plus, now you can rent/buy TV shows after a season is over.
Permalink Kenny 
March 12th, 2007 3:59pm
"Buttons generally have labels on them.  A literate person should only need a few minutes to figure out how to set up a bit of electronics."

This from the guy who was so scared of replacing the memory chip in his Mac Mini - with detailed photographic instructions - that he had to post about it on the Internet?
Permalink Send private email Flasher T 
March 12th, 2007 4:02pm
Can you break the VCR by pressing the wrong combination of buttons?  Or are you intentionally conflating two dissimilar things to make muppet look foolish?
Permalink zed 
March 12th, 2007 4:04pm
"By the time you even figure out which remote control goes to which device you're ready to give up."

The elegant solution for this is to buy your components from different manufacturers and look at the logo on the remote.

"Seriously?  Isn't this the whole point of VCRs?"

Timed recording, much like the ability to record one channel while you're watching another, is a functionality that people like to have but then never use. Much like the manual mode on automatic transmissions, or teletext. This is why TiVo is so successful - they took something which people have been going "ooh, that would be nice!" over for decades, and made it actually simple to do.
Permalink Send private email Flasher T 
March 12th, 2007 4:06pm
Zed, you are doing it again.
Permalink Send private email Rick, try writing better English 
March 12th, 2007 4:07pm
"Can you break the VCR by pressing the wrong combination of buttons?"

Depends how hard you press them.

"Or are you intentionally conflating two dissimilar things to make muppet look foolish?"

That too.
Permalink Send private email Flasher T 
March 12th, 2007 4:07pm
>"Can you break the VCR by pressing the wrong combination of buttons?"
>Depends how hard you press them.

There is also that button that irreversibly puts the TV in the input from nowhere mode.  You have to mash buttons as the TV cycles through VIDEO1, VIDEO2, DVD1, and various renditions of fuzz, neon blue and the test pattern. 

>"Or are you intentionally conflating two dissimilar things to make muppet look foolish?"
>That too.

In the case, carry on.  It's a good technique and I like to use it myself.  A bit more subtle then pretending they said something they didn't, right?
Permalink zed 
March 12th, 2007 4:26pm
I can buy one PC and the skills I learn are fine for any other PC with the same OS.

Not true for a mobile phone, a cordless phone (to get mine to reconnect to the base station I had to read 8 pages of the manual I had downloaded from the internet, the micro-wave oven (manual a must), the washing machine (a survey twenty years ago found that even though the average washing machine had over 30 settings the average user only ever used one), or any form of consumer playback apart from cheapo radios and CD players.

Incidentally nobody with a PC should be using a VCR any more. You can get standalone TV tuner cards that will also turn your PC into a Tivo for less than $100.
Permalink Send private email Stephen Jones 
March 12th, 2007 6:29pm
"Incidentally nobody with a PC should be using a VCR any more. You can get standalone TV tuner cards that will also turn your PC into a Tivo for less than $100."

Are you nuts??  I guess I will call grandma and tell her to throw away her VCR.
Permalink bob's your uncle 
March 12th, 2007 6:44pm
I was thinking of the technically minded people on the forum, not their grandmas.
Permalink Send private email Stephen Jones 
March 12th, 2007 7:40pm

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