Wife versus smart TV

Mariner often publishes the fine poetry his gifted wife produces. He has always claimed she should make a living as a poet. But now, his wife is showing that she is multi-talented. She wrote an accounting of our introduction to a new smart TV. She sent the piece to the Fort Madison Daily Democrat, a newspaper published in Fort Madison. The editor was pleased with her description of our adventure and encouraged my wife to send more articles.

Her article was headlined across the top of the opinion page and took more than half of the page. Below the article is printed in its entirety:


Adventures in the Brave New World of Television

When a thin purple line appeared down the middle of our TV screen, it didn’t seem too ominous.   Within a few days, the thin line became a thick stripe of purple and we knew the end was near.  I suppose we could have watched it that way for a long time–like using up the last of the shampoo in the bottle–but  we had already cut the cord of our DISH subscription, and we were ready to step into the new world that awaited us with a smart TV.

Have you bought a new TV recently?  I went online to read reviews.  We wanted to replace our massive 43 inch screen with one of the same size.  It turns out that 43 inches is no longer considered massive.  It is the size you buy for a second bedroom or a dorm room.  If we wanted to stay with that same puny size, we would not have all the bells and whistles that are available on larger screens that start at the small end at 50 inches and go up to 85 inches or larger.

We decided we did not need all the bells and whistles or have room for a theater experience in our living room,  so we ended up buying  a 43 inch TCL Roku TV that we found at Walmart.  Did I mention that it is a smart TV?  Did I mention that we had cut the cord to our satellite service?  We thought we knew what we were doing as we had used a Roku stick on the old TV to get free streaming TV from the internet.   We plugged in the new TV and it said “Welcome!  Let’s get started setting up your new Roku TV.”  That was a good sign.  Then it asked us to find the internet using our wifi password.   We knew our wifi password and typed it into the box on the TV screen using the remote control.   We were feeling fairly confident that we were just as smart as our new TV.  Then the TV screen said, “Great.  Now let’s set up your Roku Account.  Type in the email address linked to your existing account.”

The Roku stick that went with our old TV was a gift from our California son in law.  He had bought the stick, stuck it into the back of the old TV and set up a Roku account.  We did not know what email he used to set up the account.  We did not want to start a new account as we had saved a number of channels and we did not want to start over from scratch trying to find them again.  The screen said, if you do not know the email that is linked to your Roku account “go to settings/account/help.”  We couldn’t find a settings link anywhere on the TV.  I thought maybe settings was on the Roku account on the internet so I googled Roku.com.  In order to sign in to my account I needed….the email address that was attached to it.

Fortunately there was an 800 number to call if all else failed.  You may be wondering why I did not call my California son in law who had set up the account.  He was at that very moment on an airplane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean and we did not want to bother him.  Instead we bothered Vineesha, a young woman who was possibly somewhere in India.  She asked for the number on the Roku stick from our old purple stripe TV.  Vineesha stayed on the line while we found the old Roku stick in the mess of cables behind the new TV.  With the number from the Roku stick Vineesha was able to give us the email address linked to our Roku account.  It was my daughter’s email account.

My daughter was not on a plane, but she was far away in California.  I called her to explain that she would be getting the code numbers to type into her computer that would link our new TV to the old Roku account.  She got an email from Vineesha with the code, she typed it in to her computer in California and instantly our Iowa TV said, “Success!   Now there is just one more step.  Type in your Roku password.”

Do you see the problem with smart TV’s?  They are a little condescending in their helpful tone.  They are a little smug in their assumption that we had all of our passwords in place.  Our password was, in fact, flying somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.

My daughter in California  texted her husband on the plane, he texted the password back to her,  she called us with the password, we typed it in on our Iowa remote control and our TV was finally, finally set up and running.  It did not have a purple stripe down the middle of the screen.  It had all of our channels in place.

So what have we learned?   We learned that it takes a village to set up a smart TV.  A global village that spans the globe across multiple time zones from Iowa to India to California to a transatlantic flight somewhere in midair over the ocean.  It is a humbling experience to realize that your household devices can be controlled from a few lines of code transmitted from thousands of miles away.

And yes, we learned to use old fashioned paper and pencil to write down the email and password to our own TV.   Our wonderful new TV that is smarter than we are.

Multi-talented, indeed.

Ancient Mariner

3 thoughts on “Wife versus smart TV

  1. Wonderful article, Marty. You highlight many of the problems we have had with a so-called “Smart TV.” Keep writing, you’re a breath of badly-needed fresh air.

    • Hi Robert–Don’t I have a great publicist? Thanks for your kind comments. I don’t know why I submitted that article to the paper–it just seemed like such an amazing confluence of connections that it took to get that tv up and running!

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