Thursday, June 9, 2011

Everbody Do Xfinity

I don't change much in my life.  We have lived in the same house since 1988, gone to the same church since 1970 and drive cars at least ten years old if not older. I taught at the same high school my entire career and otherwise don't change much or easily. What we have is comfortable and familiar and that's how I like it.

With computers and telephones and television service, there is always pressure to update to the latest (and generally more expensive) technology.  I probably should have gotten one of those digital conversion boxes and used an external antenna, but that would have involved a change from cable. When Verizon, our telephone company and DSL provider, offered fiber optic internet service they called Fios (indeed pushed it, calling me every other day to see if I wanted it. I told them I would let them know), I put it off until I was ready. I became ready when they offered it for the same price as DSL. The upgrade was done by a technician and the service has been great (I know this is not true for everyone). Then they started calling me about converting my cable service to Fios as well.  I told them I would let them know.

We have had Comcast cable for quite a while and I wasn't ready to switch to their digital service, Xfinity. We don't watch that much television, but I do admit an attraction to shows like Animal Police on the Animal Network (or whatever it's called).  Then channels began disappearing, replaced by a screen saying that they were now digital and we had to upgrade to--guess what?-- Xfinity. I finally gave in an ordered the self-install kit, expecting the worst.

The upgrade came in a big box containing four smaller boxes, one for each of our sets. I took them out and found there was one large converter and three smaller ones. I put the large one on the big set in the studio (naming it the Mother Ship) and the smaller converters on the smaller set.  The instructions didn't say, but I supposed that the big converter used a wireless signal to broadcast to the smaller converters.  I set everything up and activated the service online. It all worked! Everything, that is, except the one set I forgot to turn on for the activation.  I called the number on the screen and was connected to one of those robotic voices that never work well, except this one did. "She" diagnosed the problem and after a series of strange electronic noises activated the inactive set. Pretty impressive.

The last step was to program the remote controls which used the procedure that anyone who has set up a universal remote is familiar with.  Punch some buttons, put in the code for that brand of television and see if the remote will turn off the set. Repeat with another code when it doesn't.  Repeat some more. I managed to get all the remotes working except for the one in our bedroom on a set that must be about twenty years old.  I finally called the service line and got a real person.  When I described my problem, he asked how old the set was. When I told him, he said that was most likely the problem--the set was too old to recognize the code. I could use the old remote to turn it on and off and the new one to change channels and set the volume. I kept fiddling with the Xfinity remote until I accidentally found out that if I pressed the Return key and then Power, the set would turn on or off.

All in all, the changeover wasn't bad, taking about two hours on a Saturday afternoon. Now we have about 200 channels we won't watch.  Like I said, I don't like change.

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