Thursday, February 4, 2010


I had a frustrating telephone call from my mother this evening.

The change from analog to digital TV has been very difficult for her. She has ComCast so she didn't need to get one of those digital boxes and things should have gone smoothly, but there are a few things that are different.

For one thing, she used to record one program while watching another and she can't do that now. I don't know why, but apparently this is a known problem with the change over. She adjusted to that, though she's not happy about it.

But tonight she called in a panic because "it says 444 but it's supposed to say 4 and I can't get it to say 4, so what do I push?" Whatever the problem is, she cannot find any program she wants to watch and she doesn't know what to do.

I have tried to tell her over and over again that all TVs are not alike and that I can't tell her what to do without being able to see her remote controls and what she is seeing on her TV. She can't understand why "they" can't make all TVs the same so all you have to do is push one button.

The advances in modern technology are not easy for older people. Heck, I'm getting there myself. I can't even imagine how I'll cope when/if I'm 90.

One big problem with my mother is that she is terrified of anything at all different when it comes to her machines. She was adamant that she wanted NOTHING to do with a computer because she knew she'd never be able to use one. She did finally agree to WebTV, which we got for both her and Walt's mother at the same time. Walt's mother is 5 years older than my mother and she was surfing the web in no time, reading the Washington Post on line and checking out "what this internet porn is all about." We laughed at her for that.

At the same time, my mother could just barely read e-mail and despite my setting her WebTV up with ONE bookmark, my journal, and leaving her printed instructions for how to press TWO buttons, she has been unable to find this journal unless I send a notify (which is why I started the notify list...she hadn't been reading it for awhile anyway, so those of you who are on the notify list will notice that I've been rather slack about sending out notifies. I figure that by now people who read this journal KNOW that I publish every day, so don't really need a notification.)

She can read e-mail, but she can't write e-mail, she can only answer e-mail. When she was in her 70s, I had hope that she would eventually learn this, but she never has. I pay $20 a month for her and she gets maybe 3 or 4 e-mails a month, if that (and those may be forwarded jokes), and never writes any, but I want her to HAVE it so that in case her grandchildren or her in-laws in Holland want to write to her, they can.

I have long wanted to get her a new TV and a new VHS/DVD recorder so she can watch movies on her TV, which she seemed to have missed at some point, but I knew that changing anything, even to something which might work better for her, will throw her into a panic. I also considered getting basic expanded cable for her because it would simplify her options, but she insists she won't ever use it, can't learn how to use it and wants no part of it. Given the cost ($60+ a month) and how much I'm already spending on WebTV that she won't use, I gave up that idea.

But it's so frustrating for me not to be able to answer her questions by telephone and have it be so frustrating for her. She doesn't watch much TV, but what she watches she really likes. I can't see her giving up CSI or 49er games or golf tournaments (though without Tiger Woods, that might not be as big a loss as it would have been a year ago), and her soap opera (which she insists she has been "watching" since the 1940s, even though we didn't have a TV until 1953!)

So anyway, I'm making an emergency house call tomorrow to see if I can figure out how to help her figure out her TV problem. I sincerely hope it's a simple fix or that I can get help from ComCast (which I realize is a fantasy!) or, if all else fails, a call to Ned, who will then be in the same position that I am right now--trying to diagnose something over the telephone when he can't see what I'm working with. At least I should be able to describe things a bit more clearly to him than she can to me.

I just wish I could buy her a new TV and a new recorder, but I fear that would end her TV watching altogether because she'd be so afraid of it that she wouldn't watch it at all.


jon said...

Technology has not been kind to people born before WW II.
Some embrace it, many are overwhelmed by it.
My Dad had trouble setting his Casio digital watch.


Governor Jen said...

I don't know how it works with cable, but could you still connect a digital converter box up to it? It would simplify it, because they operate more like the old analog TVs. That's a tough one... bummer.

ComcastCares1 said...

I understand her position. I know she just wanted to watch TV and record the shows without any hassles.

If you are interested, you can get our DVR box. This will allow her to record her shows easly. She can also get the dual tuner DVR. This will allow her to record and watch another show. I believe we still have promotion that will allow your mother to try the DVR box for a few months at no charge. I will be happy to check for you. I work for Comcast.

You can contact me at the email below. Please include the phone number associated with the account and your contact number.


Mark Casem
Comcast Corp.
National Customer Operations,com

Anonymous said...

I think it's great that someone from Comcast replied to your post with suggestions to help!!

Now that's customer service!!!