Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 08.11.04
Quebec City


Lo-tech Guy meets 21st Century

The other day I reached the conclusion that I needed a new VCR.

Now for me, that ranks right up there in the category of "major lifestyle decisions."

At the present moment my list of high-tech equipment includes a television, a radio, a twenty-year-old telephone, an electric can opener, and the aforementioned VCR.

I probably wouldn't even have it except that it was a gift from my father-in-law.

Anyway, my first hint that I might be looking at something new came recently when I slid a tape into the slot and pressed play.

What followed was three ka-chunks and a grrr noise reminiscent of gears not quite meshing.

The machine then spit the tape back out.

Never one to be deterred, I pushed it back in with much the same result.

About fifteen attempts later the machine obviously realized I wasn't going to quit and decided to play the tape.

Rewinding was just as difficult.

I finally managed to get the thing in reverse by pointing the remote directly at the VCR and holding the reverse button down with one hand and keeping the tape from ejecting with the other.

Nope. There was no choice. I had to buy a new machine. Not only that, but instinctively realizing that this was my chance to step onto the cutting edge of technology, I decided to throw caution to the wind and buy a dual VCR-DVD player.

I don't actually have any DVDs but Karl, my technician friend, assures me they're here to stay.

Now, I've learned a thing or two over the years.

So when I dismantled the broken box I labeled each wire as I disconnected.

You know the ones: audio in, visual in, cable out, power to TV etc.

So hooking up the new one was actually easy, just a matter of matching up the labels.

The difficulty came when I actually tried to activate the VCR.

I'm one of those people who just wants to watch a movie.

I don't want to lock any children out. I don't care how the timer works. I don't want to zoom in or out. I don't want to play MP3 audio tracks.

And I don't want to tape a television program. Heck, the reason I'm watching movies is there's nothing on TV.

But there it was. The operating instructions manual. One hundred and twenty-six pages of generally incomprehensible gibberish.

You think I jest?

Here's just one example: "notes about DVD-RWS/DVD-RS, DVD+RWS/DVD+RS, or CD-RS/CD-RWS."

And that's just the title of the section.

Suffice it to say, so far I've got the clock working and I can play a movie. And I'm only on page 43.

I'll keep you posted.