Thursday, April 29, 2010

Remotely in Control

Have you ever noticed that pile of remotes that have built up on your coffee table? Now I am not one of those people who is going to lament the ‘remote revolution’ over the last couple of decades. Because I remember the early days without those little button butlers at my beck and call. I had to get up and actually touch the devices that I wanted to do something. That was work and I am nothing if not lazy.

The very first TV that my wife and I bought in 1982 was from a pawn shop and it came with a remote. It included a second generation ultrasonic keypad remote to do my bidding. The previous models simply had up and down buttons for volume and another pair for up and down channel surfing. Sounds unsophisticated by today’s standards, but honestly you always knew what each button did as compared to remote control devices of today. Now remotes compete for ‘universal’ functionality and are a minefield of 30 to 50 tiny buttons that require eagle-eye vision to read and a ‘programming’ book to use.

I have grown fond of my overhead fan remote. It has three speeds, a light switch and an off button. That is probably about 3 more buttons than I generally need but at least it is approaching simplicity. Garage door openers all used to be really simple with one big button to push for open and again to close. Now even those are getting messed up with 3 individual door controls, a light switch, and maybe an extra device switch. I have steam showers in my house that have remotes that are so complex no guests want to take showers or baths. Now I think that STINKS, on a number of levels don’t you?

Why does everything have to become so sophisticated that it is confusing again – I am clearly feeling OUT of control with my remotes. No I do not want to go back to the good old days of unlocking my car by hand or getting up from my reclined comfort to mute the TV with greasy ‘Frito fingers’. I like my remotes, I just wish that they would like me back. Maybe eventually ‘voice command’ will finally solve the simplicity problem? However, I am not sure my future guests will appreciate being told by a universal remote to “TAKE A SHOWER … PLEASE”!

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