There are two sides to every coin. This saying is especially true when it comes to technology, except technology’s coin is the one that Two-Face uses…one side is perfect and pristine, the other side is scarred beyond any reasonable recognition. When technology works, it’s seamless, fluid, simple. When it DOESN’T…
Your level of confidence when you’re setting up something electronic can range from “I helped design this thing” to “This came from an different planet.” I consider myself somewhere around the “Everything does something, I’ll figure it out eventually” level. So when something sells itself as being “simple…easy to install” and “easy to use”, I approach it like it’s a piece of cake and all I need to do is bring a fork. And when it came time for me to connect my phone to my tv so I could watch videos, look at pictures, listen to music and do other stupid awesome things, I was digging for cutlery when I looked at this magical piece of equipment:
That’s it. Just a single square piece of plastic and electronics. And on the back, just THREE things to plug in! The power, the audio cable, and the video cable! THREE THINGS!!! That cake was going to be SOOOOOOO tasty…
I had gone to pick up the magic box at Future Shop, a 30-45 minute round-trip accounting for drive there, chat, buy, drive back. Checking the clock back at home, it was now 2pm. It should’ve taken 3-5 minutes to get everything set up and running. Little did I know what a time vampire this task was going to become.
After making the other connections, I plugged in the power. This thing is so simple, when you plug in the power it turns itself on and starts the set up. So there it went, a nice big white Apple logo sitting in the middle of my screen. And I waited. And waited a little more. And then hit that dreaded, horrible moment we’ve all reached before: “It shouldn’t be taking this long…”
Then a robotic female voice sprang from my speakers, asking if I needed assistance. Well sure, that’d be great, if I knew what button to press on this “simple” 3 button remote. Help me disembodied robot lady!
The “problem” with Apple’s simple-to-set-up/simple-to-use/”it just works” ideas is that, well, you don’t really get much in the way of instructions and directions. So it was off to the internet, searching for “what does just a white logo mean”…
2:15pm – After gleeful anticipation through the day of getting this awesome magic box, committing 30 minutes of driving time to get it, and spending 15 minutes trying to set it up, I finally found an answer. And without getting into overly technical details, I found out that this magic box wouldn’t work with the tv, even though I had all the connections I needed, and the tv had everything it needed for it to work. Let that last bit sink in: I had ALL the connections (which I had researched online ahead of time) and the tv had everything it needed to work. There was just one little “conversation issue” that made my new toy an expensive paper weight.
2:20pm – After staring in disappointment for five minutes, I finally accepted it wasn’t going to happen and packed it all up. (important side note: This is why you open things slowly and carefully at first, and hang on to the box for a least a week. You never know if you’re gonna have to bring it back, and tearing into it like a kid at Christmas might not help you in the long run.) Saddened, I headed back out, knowing it was time to settle for Plan B.
3:15pm – After returning to the store, making the return, debating on the next move, making another purchase and fighting traffic, I was back at home again, this time with an adapter. A single adapter that plugged into the tv that would let me connect my phone. Not even three steps this time, just TWO. Plug phone into cable I already had, plug cable into newly purchased adaptor, limited success is found (it didn’t do everything the “magic box” would have done, but it would still do enough for what I wanted.) So I turned the tv on, turned the phone on, plugged in the cable, and plugged in the adapter….
3:20pm – As my swearing tsunami subsided, I once again took to the internet to see what magical step I was missing in this “plug TWO things in” procedure.
3:40pm – After Googling for issues others had come across, I gave up and went to Apple’s website, found the specfic part I had picked up, and clicked on the “troubleshooting” link. Usually these links are pointless, because they rarely deal with the actual problem you’re hav-
“Oh. It says right there this won’t work. This thing, that plugs into exactly what I have, won’t work.”
It was like plugging something into a wall socket for power and having it spray shaving cream. It just. DIDN’T. WORK.
4:30pm – Return to store, third purchase, back at home. The excitement at the beginning of the day had now collapsed into itself like a dying star, only a black hole of defeat remained. My third attempt was a cable that plugged into my phone and the tv at the same time. ONE CONNECTION. Phone to tv. That’s it. This solution did the bare minimum of what I wanted to accomplish: I could watch videos, listen to music and look at pictures directly from the phone. It cost as much as the second purchase did, it just did everything poorly. Sneering, I plugged it in and DARED it to not work…
…SUCCESS. Well, sort of. There was my phone’s video being shown on the television. Problem? It looked WORSE on the tv than it did on my phone. So I tried the pictures…ok, they showed up, but I couldn’t flick through them as I wanted. I had to do a slideshow. And I couldn’t pick which ones to skip. (sigh)
So there it is. Solution found. We all find one, whether it’s what we desired at the beginning, tried in the middle, or settled for in the end. And that’s kind of how life works sometimes. We all know what we want, we all know sometimes we’ll have to settle for something instead, and in the worst of times, you just have to go with what’s happening and look to the future. A new TV would solve all the issues I had yesterday, but that’s not in the cards right now, so I’ll just settle for what I’ve got and we’ll look to another day.
But I’m not settling for this. It sucks. It’s going back today. (warms up the car)