Monday, September 13, 2010

Twiddling Thumbs

Now that we have settled into a somewhat flexible routine, dictated by Lin's chemotherapy sessions or rather his WBC and Neutrophil counts, we have come up for some air.

However, we don't do anything particularly strenuous or adventurous.  Friends have offered to lend us DVDs but we've never been huge fans of watching the box. Summer sporting events on TV have filled in some time and provided some interest, and there have been some wonderful moments of tennis. I only wish that Roger Federer had done better at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Yet sometimes we turn on the TV and watch whatever is on, even if it is not particularly enthralling, such is the power of the medium. It seems easier to sit and watch and flick to other channels every now and again than to get up and do something more entertaining or rewarding. Maybe this form of inertia gave rise to the term "to veg. out".

On paper we have access to a wide range of programs and lots of channels, but in reality the fare leaves something to be desired. Not being an avid follower of any particular American or British TV series, we have no idea how far behind we lag when we watch. We work around what is available rather than make it a point to switch on in order to catch a film, an episode or a telecast of a match.

Sometime, I think, in July we realised that we needed Singtel MIO for Lin to watch some of the soccer leagues or series (whatever they are called). Yet most of the other channels that we were already familiar with were on Starhub.

It took us only 3 visits from a Singtel tech to get us up and running and we are considered fortunate. Some friends have had repeat visits and one even had a whole team in her flat - twice.

The tales of woe have somewhat abated, possibly because some potential subscribers have been put off by their friends' experiences and are sitting this round out.

I suppose it must be good for competition to have both cable tv providers bid for sports events, but in this case the combined offerings of both dominant players have not added better content to paying subscribers' viewing.

It means having two set top boxes, one connected via the telephone landline and the other via the cable tv/broadband co-axial cable. And just to rub a little salt into the wound, subscribers to Singtel MIO have to subscribe to additional landlines to watch MIO on a tv that's in another location within their homes.

Some bright spark must have thought this an excellent way to reverse the trend in landline demand (with the recent flood of immigrants and workers into Singapore demand for landlines may not have declined here)! Neat idea, but it does not endear Singtel to anyone and they have not done us any favours.

And it only means they will have to continue making winning bids for some sports channels or events to keep their subscribers - it doesn't take a brain to see that subscriptions are not going to be any more affordable in the future.

In America, AT&T has U-verse which uses fiber optics (for broadband, digital tv and home phones) and does not require additional phone line subscriptions. So alternatives which are not so troublesome to install and get running and more economical on phone subscriptions do exist.

Through this transition and having to get used to new remote controls makes me wish someone would invent a remote control that is really simple and easy to operate.

It would be an intelligent "remote control for dummies" and have only an ON/OFF button, and buttons for volume and the numerals 0-9. All one would need to do is enter the channel number.

Otherwise it would use voice recognition for more advanced requests such as 'Search', 'Search Sports' and so on - keeping these commands simple and featuring only the current 24 hours' programming.

Bye bye multiple remotes and all sorts of tiny buttons.

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