Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In which I triumph over snakes

There I was, faced with a non-functional DVD player. That may not sound particularly tragic to more worldly people, but in our little household the DVD player is one of our primary sources of entertainment, especially when we bond in a ritual that we've come to call "Friday Family Movie Night". It's more impressive with capital letters, don't you think? Today is Wednesday -- the clock is ticking toward Friday evening, and I have a bazillion important things other people need me to do, so what better time to completely dismantle the entertainment system and attempt to rewire the whole shebang, McGyver-style, during the few hours the kids were entertained by a massive snowfall?

I got everything taken apart, cables lying everywhere like snakes (aha! a reference that explains the title!) or, perhaps more accurately, intestines. The kids occasionally stuck their heads in like worried family checking on a surgery-in-progress. But I couldn't make it work. One device would work, leaving two others hissing at me as I pushed the mute button on random remotes, also scattered like casualties around the carpet. Or I could get them all to sort of work, but the DVD player was only showing in pink. Or the TiVo wouldn't recognize the antenna, sadly blinking "no signal" at me. I delved into my box of random cables acquired over time, switching the red/yellow/white trio for the red/green/blue one, and then trying (again) the s-video, and occasionally hearkening back to the old coaxial. At one point I realized I had a cable exiting and entering the same device. Oops.

I changed strategies. Google guided me from despair to anguish to resignation, with occasional teasing passages that almost got me fixed up, until I learned I would need 75 Pounds Sterling for the correct part (because I was reading an English TiVo blog at the time). Finally, I gave up and headed to Target, hoping to find the right magical cable for under a hundred dollars.

Wrong cable (for a good price). In fact, I have no plugs into which I can plug that particular cable. I think I picked it up with a healthy dose of wishful thinking. We got home and my little angels looked at me with their sparkling eyes, begging to be able to play Wii because they were going through withdrawal. I laughed harshly and told them they might never play Wii again. I could hear their pillow-stifled sobs from the living room as I again approached the machines.

Then, I got it. I found a diagram online, printed it, and took it with me to the living room. Of course, none of the devices or connections shown on the diagram related in any way to my personal set up, but suddenly I was surrounded by a blue glow and I began working in a steady, inspired fashion. Tab A, Slot B. TiVo video? Check. Audio? Check. Wii video and audio? Check. Even better -- they were routing audio through the Surround Sound, so it was even BETTER than before. Oh, yes, an electronics goddess! DVD audio? check. Video? Pink. Unhealthy, unholy, reminiscent of Pepto Bismol. *sigh* And again lightning struck -- a few buttons on the remote, and voila! Perfect video.

I slowly rounded up the leftover pieces, shoved the old TV aside (I installed a new one which had been meant for a father's day present, but I thought I needed it to make this whole thing work), and trudged to my desk to write up a detailed explanation of how to make this whole thing work. But I won! The wiring-snakes are now coiled in the random-electronics box, the three remotes are labeled, the instructions are taped where everyone can find them, and I won't have to mess with this again for a few weeks, when the new TiVo arrives.

But I'm pretty proud of myself, even if it did take all stinkin' day and someone more knowledgeable would have been finished in an hour (two at the outside). So now I can go watch TV and continue to ignore all the tasks my ToodleDo account keeps reminding me about.

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