DirecTV Woes

I have a love/hate relationship with DirecTV. Maybe hate is too strong a word. I don’t hate DirecTV in the sense that I do the “great Troy Tulowitzki” my winner for attitude rookie of the year. It is more of a “I can’t stand being bullied about by a media conglomerate” displeasure. I’ve been a satellite user for 25 years. Wow, that sounds so dirty when I say it that way. My love affair with satellite programming began while I was in college. In order to help support myself in school I installed satellite dish equipment. At that time the dishes were between 8 and 10 feet in diameter and had to be moved with a crank by hand. There was no such thing as paid programming and encryption had not even been considered. Not only did you get standard programming on a satellite dish but you also got to see what happens during the commercial breaks when the camera is not live. That is of course good and bad. (No one should ever be exposed to Dan Rather picking his nose.) As technology has evolved my viewing habits have changed to follow suit.

With the advent of the digital video recorder I was one of the first people to place an order for the service. DirecTV utilized the Tivo technology to allow viewers to time shift their viewing to when it was convenient for them. The Tivo interface in my opinion is one of the best user experiences to be made available to the general public. There is just something enabling about being able to give a program a thumbs up to reward it for meeting your entertainment needs. Likewise it is empowering to give a program a thumbs down when you don’t like it (although there have been times that I wish I could give a program a finger rather than a thumb). As Tivo and I became more acquainted it would make recommendations of what programs I might like. At first this bothered me that a machine could somehow predict what shows I may like. For months I would watch each recommendation just to try and figure out what it was about a program that Tivo thought I would like. That was followed by a time when I would attempt to “trick” Tivo into recommending things when I had no interest in the program just to beat the system. Finally after all the posturing and games we set, I got to a point when I relied on Tivo to help me manage the finite time I spend in front of the television.

Just when I reached that point DirecTV decided to part ways with Tivo and begin using their own DVR system. This new system is nothing like Tivo and I find it a much more frustrating experience. Tivo and I knew each other and were comfortable together. The new system is a dumbed down version that has very little intelligence built into it at all. Fortunately I had one high-definition receiver in the master bedroom that was still Tivo so it was not a complete loss. Recently I received a letter from DirecTV which outlined changes they had made to their satellite offerings that would require me to upgrade my existing receiver or lose out on upcoming programming. At first I thought this to be an idle threat but then I realized that one of these upcoming programming channels was FoxSports Arizona which is home to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008. Now I had a distinct dilemma on my hands. I could continue to utilize my good friend Tivo but miss out on seeing the Arizona Diamondbacks play on television or I could turn my back on Tivo and maintain my sports programming for Diamondbacks away games. With a heavy heart I called DirecTV and placed an order for an upgraded high definition receiver. Today the installation technician came to my house and literally pulled the plug on my old friend eliminating its life support. The lights on my Tivo blinked then closed to never awaken again. I asked the installer if it would be ok if I said a few last words before he took my friend away. The guy just stood there blankly and stared at me which I took as an approval. I recounted the times Tivo and I spent together and how much we had enriched each other’s lives. I promised to never forget my friend and vowed to erect a tribute to commemorate our last moments together. I ended with a small prayer asking God to receive my friend and watch over him until we could be reunited. Then wiping a tear from my eye I ended and let the confused installer take my friend away wrapped in dark plastic never to be seen again. I learned today how important the Diamondbacks are to me, I was willing to sacrifice a friend to keep watching this team. Is that wrong?

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