The Insider: High-Def and Blind Luck

Mar 23, 2008  •  Post A Comment

It was sheer coincidence that The Insider was at her parents’ home in Orlando, Fla., when the sales call from Bright House Networks was received and when the resulting installation visit took place.
Bright House made them a good offer, and both parental units agreed to make the switch. A service date was scheduled for about three weeks hence.
Then the Big Daddy figure decided it was time to go high-def in a big way. He’d been poring over Consumer Reports and other sources of information for a long time, but found that more information only led to more confusion and indecision about which format to choose. The Insider has had much the same experience, for which she blames her delayed conversion to high-def.
Big Daddy took a trip to Best Buy and, after staring at every set in the store, settled on a 42-inch Panasonic plasma number that was, it turned out, a discontinued model. He ordered the newer version of the model he liked, despite being told the store couldn’t promise it would be delivered on his preferred schedule—which has always been immediately.
As the rarest sort of consumer luck would have it, the set was delivered a half-hour early on Wednesday and the cable technician arrived late in the afternoon of the next day.
It was well after dark when the technician, Mike Saleh, left. In addition to connecting four sets in three rooms and participating in Big Daddy’s standup comedy routine, he had to follow miles of overlapping and crisscrossing wire to its origins to change modems and connect phone lines.
You see, in the 48 years the Dohertys have lived in that house, many things have been installed, but few have been thrown out. There’s a classic stereo system, several VCRs and CD/DVD players as well as TV screens and assorted devices that help The Insider’s mother—yes, she does have one!—continue to manage the details of her daily life despite the macular degeneration that rendered her legally blind several years ago.
In recent years, the younger daughter’s tech-savvy and good-hearted boyfriend has obligingly hooked up what Big Daddy wanted, how he wanted it.
Parts of the living/family room rug had come to bear a distinct resemblance to scenes from “Snakes on a Plane”—not the best situation, even if one parent were not legally blind and the other were not putting off cataract surgery.
Now the jungle of wires and cords had been eliminated.
Everything was working. It was time for the parents to master their remote controls and the infinite ways in which their upgraded cable service could improve their quality of life.
Over the course of the four days before she returned to New York, The Insider ran a TV boot camp: barking lessons in how to set a programming alert, search for a program, order a pay-per-view movie or get out of a situation created by hitting the wrong button accidentally.
It was a big week politically, what with Sen. Barack Obama taking heat for his longtime preacher’s rhetoric and New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer taking a political powder because of his affinity for hookers and the swearing-in of his predecessor, the first legally blind governor in U.S. history.
The Insider gave pop tests disguised as news-driven programming choices: Let’s see what the ladies of “The View” have to say about hooking hubbies. Or whether Chris Matthews has any advice for the latest political wife to be cuckolded by her politico husband! Let’s check out “The O’Reilly Factor” on the militant minister! Find the mute button!
We all marveled the first, second and, OK, third time the caller ID on an incoming call was displayed in the upper left corner of the TV. Talk about screening calls! Everyone sighed with relief when WKMG-TV General Manager Henry Maldonado announced on air that his Post-Newsweek station had reached a retransmission-consent agreement with Bright House.
The Insider left Orlando feeling her job was almost done. She still hopes her parents will take that next step to a DVR.
She’s still got to order the T-shirt that says, “My Mother Was Legally Blind Before Legally Blind Was Cool.”
And she’s got to buy her own high-def set. Having watched one blond midday anchor’s overworked face in Orlando, The Insider knows it’s the only way to appreciate Priscilla Presley’s overworked face on “Dancing With the Stars.”

One Comment

  1. Thank you. Now I know I’m not alone. The evolving tv technology is daunting enough (and costly) to those of us who work in the tv biz. Imagine how hard it is for a generation whose phones had circular dials, and for years only knew 3 tv channels, who don’t have computers or online access. My dad, like your mom, has macular degeneration. We got them a 32″ LCD for Christmas which is easier to see, but the remote controls continue to get tinier with tinier (and more)buttons that they can’t see.
    The winners will be the manufacturers, the cable companies, and retailers. The industry needs to address the needs of an increasingly older viewership: make things simpler and easier to see.

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