I have elderly parents, like most of us. My dad has cable television so I’m not worried about him making the switch to DTV next month. My mother, on the other hand, is using a DirecTV box on my DirecTV plan, which means she can’t get local channels where she lives in Florida without using a second television hooked up to antenna. That’s the way she wants it, and I’m good with that.
Except that I’m in Missouri and she’s in…Florida. I sent her a digital converter box and some instructions, and a neighbor helped her hook it up. Her first complaint was that the picture suddenly became tiny on the screen, as if it were in letterbox format. I’ve tried several times to explain how to fix it by looking through her menu and changing the aspect ratio, but it’s just not sinking in for her. She’s so annoyed, and I really can’t blame her. And I can’t just walk over there and fix it, either. And the other people in her retirement park are in as bad a shape as she is, none of them have the tech skills or the knowledge of the lingo to know what to look for in the manual to fix problems.
I think this is the biggest stumbling block for most of the digital conversion. Many of our elderly parents do not have the knowledge to handle making the change themselves. Those who have a young ‘un nearby to help are in great shape; but in my case, she’s 1500 miles away and there’s not a lot I can do to help her. I’ve been pulling instructional and informational articles off the internet and sending them to her in email (yes, I taught her how to use email and she has her own laptop and broadband wireless card so she can take it anywhere), but she’s still frustrated with what should be a simple thing. Having played with a digital box here recently, I can understand the frustration. The menu interface is not that user-friendly on these boxes.
Now the Senate has passed a measure delaying the DTV switchover until June. It isn’t law yet, as the House still needs to approve it, so who knows what will happen with it. In the meantime, what are we supposed to do to help people like my mother? I think I’d pay a young ‘un $20 to go over there and fix it for her. Maybe that’s where the DTV government money should have gone instead, to pay for techs to hook these boxes up for people who don’t have the knowledge to do it on their own.
Personally, I hope there is no delay in the switchover. It’s been in process a long time, and I believe it needs to happen on schedule. But I have to wonder if the planning was lacking in foresight, after all is said and done. My mother would think so, that’s for sure.