Generation e-gap

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Thursday, September 21. 2006 in Junk Drawer

Last week my folks switched from satellite TV to cable. The reason had nothing really to do with which service was better, or which had a better selection of shows; it was just based on which one was cheaper. Comcast was offering a 6-month deal, and they went for it. Anyway, the cable tech comes in and proceeds to rip out anything and everything that even *touched* the satellite box. After he leaves, my folks find out that "Hey, the VCR doesn't work anymore... and neither does the DVD player!" They take a quick look around the back of the entertainment center and, other than the power cables, not a single cable is going into, or out of, either the VCR or DVD player. They call me, and the next day I stop over and connect it all back up for them. But what makes this so interesting is the fact that I had to do it; my folks are smart, and not *that* old. Heck, my dad was a marine engineer with Sparrows Point, Bethlehem Steel, and the reason why I'm as handy as I am is, for a large part, due to the fact that I watched and helped my old man fix cars, do plumbing, and tinker with appliances... Certainly plugging in a few cables here and there shouldn't be that hard. But it was. I think the reason is that we have made a pretty drastic technology change over the last few decades. High-tech for my folks were efficient mechanical devices. Things you could look at, see them work, and see *how* they work. But when electronics started taking over, that all went away. I recall when we got our first TV set and looking in the back and seeing nothing but hot, glowing tubes. Not a gear or pulley to be seen. If the TV went on the fritz, you couldn't "fix it." If you were lucky and adventurous you took out a bunch of tubes from the back (make sure they had cooled down though!) and took 'em over to the hardware store, where they had this big machine that you could plug in a tube at a time and see if it was good or not. If God was happy, you would find the burned out tube, buy a replacement and plug 'em all back in, and you were back in business. But more often than not, you had to call for that king of all men: THE TV REPAIR MAN! No wonder the older generation has problems with all this "advanced" stuff now. The transition was very fast, and appeared very magical. My son asked me if I thought that, in 30 years or so, my generation would have the same problems with that future technology that the older generation of today has. I don't think so; sure it will be more advanced than what we have now, but we'll understand it, at least the core principles of it. It will be an evolutionary change, not a revolutionary one, and the former is much easier to handle. Oh, and even though they have digital cable, my folks think the picture with satellite TV was loads better.

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