Friday, October 19, 2007

What is it with men and technology?

As women go, I'm a bit of a nerd. I like computers, have long been the "alpha geek" in my peer group of PAs (even to the point of teaching my engineer bosses the finer points of their MicroSoft Office software), and am ever ready to nod benignly when my engineer-hubby wants to buy some new techno-gadget, like a 4gig jump drive.

I'm somewhat less enthusiastic about adopting new audio-visual stuff, but if he tells me we need it and we can afford it, as long as I don't have to give up something sparkly that I've been drooling over, it's OK with me. We generally don't quibble over the remote since there are only four channels to choose from and we are pretty much of one mind as to which of the offerings are the lesser of the evils.

Enter the PVR.

Yep, the serpent entered Paradise last month through the auspices of DSTV. In California I had cable TV...300 channels and nothing to watch...DSTV is remarkably similar, just with fewer offerings. I swear, fully 2/3 of the channels available are just dreck. But the bone of contention isn't the remote, it's the PVR itself.

This is a handy little gadget that allows you to pause live TV...even do instant replays! And, I discovered several days after the beast was installed, it will actually let you record one program while you are watching another or it can be programmed (fairly easily) to record programs in the future. Handy-dandy for recording my soapies when I have to be out or when Hubby decides we're going to eat out and we leave before 7de laan comes on. In the US we have a product called TIVO that does pretty much the same, but it was something you subscribed to in addition to the cable TV service, and apparently it's pretty popular there (it was out of my financial reach at that time so I have no first-hand experience with it).

So, the day comes that I have several appointments one morning and they are smack dab in the middle of my morning soapies. Ordinarily I would just shrug my shoulders, say "oh, well," and go on to my appointment, but this PVR thing beckoned me seductively..."record All My Children," it whispered in sultry tones. "C'mon, it's easy..." Weak-willed as I am when it comes to new technology, I succumbed and in a moment I was rooting through the "instruction manual drawer," hunting up the PVR booklet. It really was easy! I scrolled through this and paged through that and pressed a button or two and...lo! and behold!...I had All My Children scheduled for recording in my absence! But my joy was short lived.

As soon as I returned to regular programming, a banner superimposed itself over my program, announcing that there were fewer than 10 hours available on the hard disk for recording. How was that possible? Didn't this thing have like an 80gig hard drive? We'd only had it for a couple of days and this was my first program scheduled...what the heck was going on?

A quick peek at the manual informed me how to check the recording schedule and in a moment I was there, staring incredulously at screen after screen...five pages in all...set to record. Nearly 50 programs were tagged for recording...Girls of the Playboy Mansion...Top Gear...Smallville...Rides...American Chopper...and movie after movie after Grade B schlock horror or low-rent "adventure" movie. There was barely any room on the disk for a decent couple of days worth of soapies, never mind a romcom or two!

We had a discussion about it and we agreed that perhaps a bit more free space on the disk should be left available for my use. We also discussed the ingeniousness of the PVR, allowing us to watch something we both enjoy, like CSI, while recording something only one of us Playboy Airheads. Since we have two TVs and they are both on the PVR, he hied himself upstairs to watch his recordings on the big TV so he could delete them from the disk and give me a little more space.

Well, the Serpent reared its ugly head tonight. I made the mistake of assuming an agreement that it was ingenious to be able to watch a mutually-enjoyed program while recording something objectionable for later viewing was the same as agreeing to actually do it. I'm a lot pickier about what I watch on TV than he is, and now with a broader range of choices, there's more kak on the tube for me to avoid. Like most men I've known, however, Hubby is mesmerized by almost anything that has colour, sound and action. If it has wheels or boobs, so much the better. If it has wheels and boobs...well, that's just hitting the jackpot. For the most part, I ignore his choices and futz with my laptop. But there are those occasions...

Tonight CSI was on MNet and Boston Legal was on another channel. Now, considering that we both like CSI and I don't care for Boston Legal, it seemed reasonable for BL to be recorded while we watched CSI. So why was Boston Legal on? I checked the TV guide and found that CSI was playing on another channel. "Why," I asked, "Are we watching this when CSI is on another channel?"

"I'm recording CSI," he responded.

"Why?" I asked again. "I don't like this show and we both like CSI."

Our arguments are rare and when they happen they are brief, quiet, and intense. It ended when I asked if the PVR was his or ours, why I didn't have more input into the decisions as to what to record and what to watch, and why he got 90% of the recording space, leaving me barely enough to record a movie and a couple of episodes of my favourite soapies.

That was about an hour ago. The TV is off. He's asleep. I'm on the computer. Knowing him the way I do, over the next week he'll reduce his backlog of recordings to give me some space on the disk, and he will be more considerate about which of our favourite shows end up being recorded in favour other things. He's really a sweet guy, but he is a guy, after all. What is it about men and technology, anyway?

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