January 9, 2007
Aspen, CO ColoradoIt doesn’t take much to throw me for a technological loop since I haven’t yet mastered either childproof caps or my DVD machine. Hell, I can’t even get the CDs out of their plastic cases!The last time I had computer problems, Sheldon Fingerman sat before the screen drumming his fingers during endless waits and implored me to get high-speed Internet service.As soon as I saw the contents of the high-speed box – “Any idiot can install it” – I knew I’d never put it together myself and enlisted Tim from the Times, who, after much tinkering, learned that installation could not be complete until later that evening.Later that evening my friend Jack spent a couple of hours talking to a chap in India who advised him to plug in this, unplug that, wait 10 minutes, reverse the plugs – a drill that would have driven me mad – but eventually, lo! I had high-speed.I haven’t noticed much difference except my spam comes in faster and has the dubious advantage that the telephone can ring when I’m working on the computer. But hey, I’m in the 21st century now.Meanwhile, the HBO channel had first secretly moved and then disappeared entirely. I went out to the Comcast office at the business center and was told that now customers could only get HBO if they went to digital TV which, in addition to more money, meant the dreaded BOX (or, in my case, TWO boxes) and intimidating new remote controls, which looked to belong in a cockpit.I took one look at the easy installation directions printed in two-point type and appealed to Tim, who said, “No problem,” or maybe it was “No worries.” Tim came over, plugged this into that and that into this, pushed buttons, called for tech help and finally got it partially going.Of course my TV sets are obsolete, and the upshot was that one of the two new remotes worked but the old remotes controlled the on-off and volume. And there was a strong caveat: “NEVER push the power button on the new remote!”So I gingerly carry the one new operable remote from my bedroom to the living room, carefully turning it on and off on the old remotes, but old habits die hard. I reach for the old remote to change a channel and drop it as if it were a hot coal.To work the DVD machine one remote has to be set on channel 4, the other on channel 3 (I refer to my notes) and one false move ends up in a solid blue screen, reminiscent of “the blue screen of death” when my computer succumbs to a “fatal error.”What I need to do is call Comcast and have them come out for a service call, but they give a four-hour (give or take) estimate of their arrival time and I didn’t have time to deal with that because we have a brand new computer system at The Aspen Times and all of our energies have been focused on that (about which the less said the better), putting Comcast woes on the back burner.On the bright side, the CD player on my boom box failed and I went to the Miner’s Building for a replacement, dreading getting out my magnifying glass for another instruction booklet.To my delight, I bought, for $40, a radio/CD/cassette player no larger than a football, which is simplicity itself and has a manual dial to find stations.Su Lum is a longtime local who doesn’t have a cell phone because she can’t read the tiny numbers and hasn’t the fortitude to learn how to work one. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.