Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Upgrading to the 21st Century

I traveled to one of my friend's in California over the weekend to help him celebrate turning 40.  I remember when I was young and I thought that forty was really old; your mind changes quickly as you approach that magical age.

While I was there we went to visit his mom - because that is where the party was going to be held - and his aunt because she was having computer issues.

When we arrived at the mom's house, the first thing said after greeting us was that she was no longer able to get the Hallmark Channel and she got this box that needs to connected so she can watch her TV.

She has the same cable company that I have back home and I knew exactly what her issue was and what the box was that she needed to have connected.  It was a digital to analog converter box that needed to be the liaison between the wall and her VCR, which then connected to her TV.  Her son Ron, who is my friend who is turning 40, thought it would be cool to not only have the digital box, but also a DVR.  So, our next step was to check out the web page for the cable company to see what packages were offered and at what prices.  Not only was this the next step, but this was also the hurdle to overcome.  Mom had a dial up connection;  oh my goodness, it felt like I was back in the 19th century it was so slow.  So now we were going to check to see how much it would cost to upgrade to a DVR and how much to get a broadband connection.  For broadband, we only had one option because the other companies had not yet developed in the area - ugh, talk about a monopoly.  So we check out the price of the broadband and find that it is not too bad; there are no prices listed for getting a DVR, so we have to go to the customer support site.  Once there, we found out that we could not just upgrade the box we got, we also had to upgrade the service to a digital classic package in order to get the DVR.  Ron did a good job on selling his mom on the benefits of the DVR that she agreed to it and we upgrade to DVR and get the broadband upgrade as well.  The customer service representative asks if we want someone to install the new services and hardware and we respectfully decline; Ron and I are relatively handy and computer savvy, so we figure this should be pretty easy.

We get home and start making the connections for the cable and broadband connection.  Relatively speaking, it went pretty flawless.  Now the next step is to make sure that it all works.  We start off with broadband; it is a painfully slow process in trying to register.  After about 30 minutes, we finally get to a screen that says we need to contact customer support.  I drew the short straw and I had to call.  I was on hold for over 40 minutes before I got to speak to a human being.  Then it took about another 30 minutes for the customer support representative to determine that we were registered and he just needed to have someone flip the flag so we could have a broadband connection.  Voila, we were now on broadband.

 Our next task was connecting up the DVR; we thought we would be done in about 15 minutes which included disconnecting most of the current connections and getting our hands through a relatively small TV stand.  Well 10 minutes later, we have all our connections made and I am ready to make the call to the cable company to register the DVR.  I am on hold with the cable company for about 20 minutes before I get to speak to the customer service representative (CSR) and she gets takes the information for registering the box and says it will take about 45 minutes for the updating of the DVR to be in place before we will be able to view the guide and start using the DVR to record.  We are watching TV and waiting for the 45 minutes to pass and we actually give it about 55 minutes as we got involved in show we were watching.  We press the magic  guide button on the remote and nothing.  I press the On-Demand button to see if that is in place; we just get an error message that states we should call the cable company.  I get on the phone and place the call to the cable company and I am on hold for about 33 minutes and Ron decides to call on his cell phone to see if he can get in any faster.  About another 10 minutes pass and we finally get to speak to a CSR on the call that placed, so Ron hangs up his cell phone and starts talking to the CSR.  After about 15 minutes of me turning on and off the DVR and the CSR turning on and off the DVR remotely, we finally have success and are able to view the guide, view On-Demand and record stuff.

Our last task is to teach Ron's mom about her new hi-speed Internet access and how to use her DVR in conjunction with her VCR.

For the Internet access, all I had to tell her was that she could be on the Internet and be on the phone at the same time and she was happy.  When I showed her how much faster everything displayed on the screen, she was nearly ecstatic.  First half of mission Upgrade to the 21st Century accomplished.

DVR and VCR remote controls and what buttons to push and when.  This was a little challenging, but the only downfall according to Ron's mom was that she could no longer watch one TV show while recording another.  She loved the fact that she could watch the Hallmark Channel and see what shows were coming on it for a couple of days in advance.  The other big feature she liked was to watch some of her favorite network shows On-Demand whenever she wanted to watch them with limited commercials; this was definitely the icing on the cake.

Even with the long waits on hold with the cable company, I think it was well worth the time to bring Ron's mom into the 21st century in regards to TV and Internet connections.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness.  They too might need to be brought into the 21st century.

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