back to article Life is... pushing all the right buttons on the wrong remote control

Mrs Dabbsy is getting cross. I know this because she has said "grrrr". People don't often say "grrrr" in everyday conversation so it's noticeable when they do. Either that or you are inadvertently chatting with Tony the Tiger over a bowl of over-sugared breakfast cereal. The target of The Glowing One's ire (this time) is the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't forget the "radio" remote controls for lights and various brands' power switches. Some of which look identical but are using different codes at 433MHz or 2.4Ghz. The SDR dongle also came with its own vanilla looking remote.

    They usually don't have any visible sign that they are transmitting. For the 433MHz ones that is where the SDR comes in useful to confirm the frequency being used. Unfortunately I have as yet to discover how to see the bit train sent by the devices.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Methinks you might need to get out more!

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
      Trollface

      Just the one remote, and a keyboard

      I am well past caring about remotes. I am past caring about TV too, for that matter. I just have the one damn rubber-nubby thing that controls the "box" for when I (or most likely, the SO) want to watch TV, everything else I control from the keyboard. Truth be told, I don't own a "smart" TV. I don't own a "TV" actually. I do own a 300-quids 3-D-compatible projector mounted on a 7-quids contruction-floodfill tripod, connected to a 50-quids 5.1 soundystem, a blank wall and a RasPy with an external DVD player and a keyboard. TV, internet content and DVD play equally well on my 2x3 m screen...

      Home-made home cinema: 400 quids. Screening "Tideland" in total immersion for your old mother: priceless.

      I can't fathom what is the rage with overexpensive "TV sets" (unless you do love juggling remotes, squinting at tiny 80 inches displays, and tinny sound)

  2. EddieD

    A lovely tale...

    I love stories like this.

    10 years ago, after a spat with VirginMedia, I got rid of my television service. I thought it would be a temporary separation, but it has matured into a fully fledged divorce.

    I don't miss it. If I want to watch something, which doesn't happen often, I can wait till it's out on DVD, or, if I reallyreally need that fix of televisual entertainment so I can join in with the conversations at work about one of the many series which all sound exactly the same as each other, one of my friends with a Tivo or similar will record it and pass it over, and I can realise why I don't have a television service, and celebrate it with a glass of something liver-rotting and cancer inducing - paid for with the money I save by not having a television service.

    See - the more you look at no television service, the more it makes sense.

    And no remotes. Life is better without remotes.

    1. Tony S

      Re: A lovely tale...

      I had the same epiphany with Sky, about 15 years ago.

      I keep getting their marketing droids phoning me up from time to time, to tell me all about the wonderful deals they can offer me; mostly involving programmes and sports that I have little to zero interest in watching.

      Some of the money I have saved has gone to the local theatre; and quite honestly, it has been far more enjoyable.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: A lovely tale...

      Yes. Dabbsy. You have my sympathy.

      I have a longer answer. But I decided I don't care any more. People seem to want to buy gadgets that don't work, use stuff that exposes their privacy and fill overly expensive phones with stupid apps. I've given up explaining the better way.

      I thought Logitech might be interested, but apparently not.

    3. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: A lovely tale...

      "10 years ago, after a spat with VirginMedia, I got rid of my television service. I thought it would be a temporary separation, but it has matured into a fully fledged divorce."

      I had a similar but more extreme experience. Fifteen years ago my TV died. I put it out on the curb for the hard refuse boyos and, for a number of reasons, never got around to replacing it. The extra time I suddenly had to do stuff was a revelation. If I really wanted to watch something, I'd have to actually go to somewhere else to do it which made it more like going to cinema but with comfy seats, people I like and beer.

      Then The GF moved in bringing her TV and I'm back on the junk. Grrr.

  3. Fading Silver badge
    Gimp

    Harmony.......

    I've been using a Harmony remote for the last few years so probably wouldn't be able to recognise which remote goes with which device. Takes a little setting up to begin with but I can't recommend them enough. Unlike a standard universal remote you program the activity (e.g. watch TV) and it turns on the devices needed whilst powering down those that are not. The buttons are then related to the devices required (e.g. amp for volume, virgin box for channel changing, colour/contrast for the TV). Worth it for the extra space on the coffee table alone.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Harmony.......

      Just don't go overboard. A basic 350 model can handle most things without too much a hit on the wallet.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Harmony.......

      I've been using a Harmony remote for the last few years so probably wouldn't be able to recognise which remote goes with which device.

      I bought one. Once. Until I discovered I would have to pollute my machine with Microsoft Silverlight, at which point it was returned to the shop and I have never bothered with them since. I have standards.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    HDMI-CEC

    Job done. *

    * Helpfully called something completely different by each TV manufacturer, but job done anyway **.

    ** You may need to enable it from the settings though as these useful things often default to off. ***

    *** Unless you really don't have it and have to buy a new TV and/or DVD (well, now BluRay player ****) because one or the other or both don't have HDMI-CEC.

    **** And if it's a BluRay player it'll probably need to connect to the Internet to update or something. *****

    ***** Oh bollocks, they get you every time.

    1. se99paj

      Re: HDMI-CEC

      Definitely recommend HDMI-CEC, I can control my TV / DVD Player / Kodi (on Raspberry Pi) all from a single remote control (I can use either the TV or DVD remote control). Volume control on my soundbar is also controlled via these remotes. No need for a "Universal Remote" or Harmony remote.

      I've been told numerous times that HDMI-CEC is for amateurs, but does exactly what I need it to do.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: HDMI-CEC

        It's a great idea, but I've only seen two things that work with it.

        I'm tempted to fill all the ethernet ports on every TV & disk player & setbox with blutack or epoxy putty in case a visitor plugs in the ethernet cable sitting there intended for netbook, laptop or Pi.

        1. Jediben

          Re: HDMI-CEC

          I have stuck to one brand (Panasonic) for all of my equipment and the Viera Link function (presumably HDMI-CEC) works very well using my telly remote to control all devices... so long as you remember to set each device to have a different remote code. Finding the PVR turns itself off, the home theatre mutes and the TV changes input to FreeSat when all you want to do is open the Blu-ray drive is a real bugger!

  5. To Mars in Man Bras!
    Thumb Up

    Not Just Us Then

    I thought it was only in our house (what with us being paupers and all that) that binge watching old British telly series (one episode every night with dinner) passed for entertainment. So I'm delighted to find we're actually "keeping up with the Dabbses".

    So far, we've worked our way through the entire back catalogue of (in no particular order):

    * Dad's Army

    * Ever Decreasing Circles

    * The Good Life

    * Minder

    * The Chinese Detective

    * Foyle's Law

    * Danger UXB

    * Van Der Valk

    * Are You Being Served

    * Lovejoy

    ... and probably a few more I've banished from memory.

    A comment I once read on IMDB summed it up nicely:

    "You know you've reached middle-age when you start hating everything on current TV and suddenly realise that Dad's Army was the funniest thing ever written'.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Not Just Us Then

      Allo Allo was the funniest thing ever written. But I don't want to watch it now in case nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not Just Us Then

        For various reasons I never saw some TV programmes when they were broadcast many years ago. Charity shops now supply DVDs of such that are now generally acclaimed as classics.

        There are now about 1000 DVDs in four racks. There are a few duplicates or triplicates as there has never been enough spare time to catalogue the collection onto a spreadsheet. These are useful when the neighbours borrow them - and forget to return them. My neighbours' young son is a black hole for DVDs. In all weathers one sees him and his pals sitting at their picnic table watching a DVD on his treasured portable player. Fortunately he has not yet formed any appreciation of anything other then "U" or "G" certificates.

        I promise myself when I reach the point in my dotage that all I can do is sit in front of the TV and dribble - then I will finally catch up with watching them. Assuming my neighbours' son has not appropriated my whole collection by then.

      2. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

        Re: Not Just Us Then

        "Allo Allo was the funniest thing ever written."

        No! Surely it's Father Ted?!

        1. I am the liquor

          Re: Not Just Us Then

          "Allo Allo was the funniest thing ever written.

          No! Surely it's Father Ted?!"

          "This sitcom is very funny. That one is *far away*."

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Not Just Us Then

        "But I don't want to watch it now in case nostalgia ain't what it used to be."

        I watched it for the "first" time in it's entirety recently, having only ever watched the live first-run broadcasts and it holds up very, very well. It's one instance where nostalgia does what it says on the tin.

      4. dvd

        Re: Not Just Us Then

        It's not just nostalgia. We are working through it now. It's ####ing hilarious. Stupid but hilarious.

        Get it watched.

      5. Rattus Rattus

        Re: Allo Allo

        Still stands up well, I binged the entire five years' worth a year or two back followed by Yes Minister. Though now, my episodes with dinner are mostly anime and Japanese comedies.

    2. blokedownthepub
      Pint

      Re: Not Just Us Then

      * Midsommer Murders

      I must have watched every one (114 @ 2 hours = 9.5 days), but now cannot remember any from the Nettles era, so watch them all again. Mind-numbing bliss.

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: Not Just Us Then

        Obligatory (well, I hope to start a trend) Old Harry's Game quote:

        Satan: What are you doing?

        Edith (under hypnosis): I'm watching Midsomer Murders

        Satan: What are you thinking?

        Edith: I'm not thinking, I'm watching Midsomer Murders.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not Just Us Then

      Mash

      apparently I used to fall asleep in front of it with dad when he got in from work.

      Watched it recently, it's hilarious.

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: Not Just Us Then

        I'd love to watch M*A*S*H again, but here in Oz, both the reruns and the DVDs have a canned laugh track. If that had been on the UK versions I could never have watched it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not Just Us Then

      * Ever Decreasing Circles

      Oh, I recently watched it. I was worried that it wouldn't be as good as I thought it was when I was young and didn't have anything else to do. Yes, yes, middle-class sitcom, dated, blah, but still when good writers meet good actors magic happens.

      (Comedy is now the only fiction I care about. At least it can make you laugh. I just can't get worked up about stuff that's made up any more.)

  6. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    I can feel your pain

    This is exactly why I HAVE an integrated system I built myself out of a Debian box, vlc and the 2 storage servers(*) in the house (a meager total of 12TB).

    However, that causes another issue. Anything and everything has to be copied there first by the Ripper man (me). That sometimes involves a lot of swearing about Disney Corp and its progeny as well as several other usual suspects like whoever used to manage Sandra Bollocks (did I spell this one right?) as they insisted every piece of bollocks produced by her has at least 3-layers of copy protection. It also involves free time to fight with the defenses erected by these idiots against us watching their content.

    So in the end the SWMBO tries to smuggle some 3£ a pop bargain bin DVDs from Sainsbury and create a nice little pigsty of plastic boxes in all nooks and crannies of the living room. So instead of herds of remote controls we now have occasional platic box infestations which I have to mercilessly cull and transfer to the system.

    (*)As they handle my mail and the VMs for my work from home environments, all they need is a few more drives slotted into them and put to sleep when not in use. Less than the cost of extra shelving to house the DVDs.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I can feel your pain

      "has at least 3-layers of copy protection. "

      I have "friends" on t'internet who I often find have already ripped them, thus saving me wasting my time doing it myself.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can buy a replacement remote control that will replace all your remotes in the one unit. Consequently it looks as if it is on steroids - which helps stop it falling down the back of the sofa - and gives you some arm muscle exercise.

    You used to be able to "train" those by pointing your old remotes at it.

    Then someone decided that consumers wanted a simpler way - and all you needed was to type in a sequence of preset digits as a code to identify your DVD player etc.

    There are several pages of codes for manufacturers and devices. You end up repeatedly going through the "reset" sequence as you try all the model codes that look possible. Then you go online to see the latest additions.

    Finally you decide to check the model number on the entertainment device itself. This is usually hidden somewhere on a hard to access side. You try to read it without disconnecting the matrix of cables joining your home entertainment systems together, Some of the cables then decide to help by unplugging themselves at various random points.

    Having finally found the magic code, or at least an imperfect one that operates the most essential functions - you then have to work out how all the cables plug together again. This may entail finding/buying a replacement cable for one which failed under the stress.

    You then add the next device to the remote control by repeating the whole process. Simple isn't it?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      You can do all of that. Then the SWMBO will dig out the old control, the other old control, the next old control and you end up with N+1 remote controls.

      Been there, tried that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You can do all of that. Then the SWMBO will dig out the old control, the other old control, the next old control and you end up with N+1 remote controls.

        You are lucky your SWMBO haven't discovered the ultimate, voice-activated remote control yet.

        - I want to watch a movie. Make it so.

        and you won't get your dinner until you do :)

    2. uncommon_sense

      The whole idea of replacing remotes usually ends up less usable than what it replaced...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next article: "Finding and identifying the correct AC to DC power blob for a particular device".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Finding and identifying the correct AC to DC power blob

      Apply sticky labels for adding identifying information. And put a small "flag" of interestingly and distinctively coloured or patterned tape around the cable. With writing on the coloured tape, identifying the matching device.

      This might even work, sometimes.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Finding and identifying the correct AC to DC power blob

        "Apply sticky labels for adding identifying information. And put a small "flag" of interestingly and distinctively coloured or patterned tape around the cable. With writing on the coloured tape, identifying the matching device."

        Which is a fat lot of help since you frequently have to snake your arm and figure everything out by Braille.

        1. earl grey Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Finding and identifying the correct AC to DC power blob

          I find that a silver Sharpie is ideal for writing on wall warts what device they claim to power as well as highlighting the micro-print the arseholes use to detail output information.

          Ninja'd by Mage.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Finding and identifying the correct AC to DC power blob for a particular device

      You could add the swearing involved when trying to read the voltage and amps of the smallest text ever known to man until you eventually give up and dig out the microscope just to read the b*stard.

      1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        Re: Finding and identifying the correct AC to DC power blob for a particular device

        "You could add the swearing involved when trying to read the voltage and amps of the smallest text ever known to man until you eventually give up and dig out the microscope just to read the b*stard."

        I take photos of 'em nowadays.

        I grab serial numbers and MAC addresses from new devices that way as well.

        And increaingly, do that for the ever-increasingly small "instruction books", though I'll look for online PDFs first.

    3. Mage Silver badge

      AC adaptor

      Plugging the 12V PSU (mini coax) that came with one external HDD drive adapter into one meant to only have 5V is fun.

      Also the output voltage and current is on the base with plug pins, tiny writing, low contrast, needs expensive magnifying lap to read. I use a metallic silver or gold marker on the DC plug and TOP of the PSU.

      Also some are fine RFI wise and others wipe out BBC R4LW, most MW, most SW etc in most of the house. Same with LED lamps, CFL lamps, TVs etc. Yet some models are perfect. The Fcc CSA and CE marks seem irrelevant.

      The newer 2, 4 or 6 "filament" style LED lamps seem to simply rectify the mains, no SMPSU, so longer life (no PSU to fail) and no RFI. They appear to have about 26 or 28 LEDs in series per "filament".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AC adaptor

        "The newer 2, 4 or 6 "filament" style LED lamps seem to simply rectify the mains, no SMPSU, so longer life (no PSU to fail) and no RFI."

        Wondered how they worked.

        Bought some of those in Wilko recently - purely because their quoted power consumption was much more economical then the other LED ones. Not cheap - but they work well and the illumination is even at a warm colour temperature ca 2700K.

        My only gripe is that the maximum bulb equivalent available in Wilko is 60 watts - a 100 watt bulb version would be useful in a couple of places in the house.

    4. uncommon_sense

      "Next article: "Finding and identifying the correct AC to DC power blob for a particular device"."

      Which I have solved by putting labels on them...

    5. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge
      Happy

      "Finding and identifying the correct AC to DC power blob for a particular device"

      Dymo Label printer, that came free with a Brother laser printer.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Apply sticky labels for adding identifying information."

    Always do that as soon as a new device is unpacked. Still doesn't stop my twenty-something "godsons" regularly losing/abandoning the power supply to a wifi bridge in a flat move.

  10. Lee D Silver badge

    Despite the number of gadgets I have, I have one VM remote. I bought my girlfriend the same model of remote so she had one too. Both do exactly the same.

    And we each have an app on our smartphone (literally an IR-blinker, not some fancy web-tech junk) that controls everything should we lose both of the identical VM remotes.

    What the hell are you people doing not to use programmable remotes and/or smart apps by now? Why do you have so many gadgets and not think "throw all those remotes in a drawer, buy one universal, programmable remote"?

    And you have the smartphone beside you while watching TV, most likely, and if you buy the right one (or the right headphone-port-gadget in the £1 range), you can control everything and literally remove the buttons that you never use from show.

    Samsung S5 Mini, for reference. Comes with Plex, but irplus is simpler and has a much larger remote database and can use LIRC files. Plex lets you schedule and checks TV listings etc, though, so it's up to what you want to use.

    It does get me when supposedly techy people whine about techy problems that aren't a problem for any techy.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      And you have the smartphone beside you while watching TV

      No, why should I?

    2. Merchman

      RE: app on our smartphone

      The thing about standard remotes, is they are tactile units. I can navigate menus, change channels, adjust the volume and change inputs, using the supplied remotes, without looking at them. I can't do the same when using the TV app on my phone, where the entire interface is flat and I have to switch screens to access different functions.

    3. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Stop

      What if I don't have a smartphone?

      There are still a few of us about with no use case for a privacy-sucking timesink.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      (or the right headphone-port-gadget in the £1 range)

      Errrr....what? Seriously, never heard of it. Some sort of headphone-like device that does IR transmission? That sounds great if it will work on Nook tablet (rooted, proper Android)

  11. muddysteve

    Tenacious D

    Very good.

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