Friday, June 1, 2012

Where's my Remote?

Let's be honest. Our lives would pretty much end if we lost our remote controls, especially the ones that control the television.

It used to be that if you couldn't find the remote, you had to choose between being lazy and not changing the channel, actually getting up to manually change it, or waiting until someone walked close to the television and having them do it. If you wanted to use the VCR, all you needed to do was set the channel to 3. If you wanted to play a video game, you could hit the input button. Life would go on without your remote.

Now? Our televisions have so many functions that we are utterly lost without the remotes. What's worse is that you can't always use the buttons on the television because not all the features can be used manually. You can't change channels, access the video games or DVD player, or use anything else you've got hooked into it. You're left with a large, pretty, rectangular monolith that you know does a lot of things but you can't make it work. It's like 2001: A Space Odyssey, except this monolith is making us stupider.

So what do we do when we can't find it? Well, if we've learned anything from any of the dozens of police procedurals we've watched on our now inert television, we've got to execute a very specific process.

First, we do a careful grid search. We look in cushions, under furniture, and on any flat surface in a thirty foot radius. Any suspicious pieces of paper are roughly tossed aside to see if they are concealing evidence. Then we look in unlikely places. Did we leave it in the fridge? A bathrobe pocket? We search through trash in case it was accidentally dumped.

When we can't find it, we've got to interrogate witnesses. We ask our kids or spouse if they've seen it. We compare statements to piece together a sequence of events. What transpired between 4:15pm when we had the remote in our hand and 6:27pm when it was missing? He come up with theories and try to recreate events, retracing everyone's steps.

Yes, it's a lot of effort. But if you've ever tried to use one of these new televisions without the aid of that remote, you understand.


  1. That is absolutely true, Charles. My wife and I have conducted these investigations on a semi-frequent basis.

    I recently wrote a blog post about a device called uGrokit that uses RFID tags to basically tag about anything. You attach the device to your cell and can use it as a little proximity detector (something out of the movie Aliens, I suppose).

    I would imagine you could slap a tag on that bad boy and buy you back quite a few hours of your life spent searching.

    Thanks for what you do. You are appreciated.


  2. Personally, I like to believe the remotes in my house are alive and playing an extended game of Hide-and-Seek!

    That, and any time I find one (of the THREE!!!!) the Legend of Zelda jingle runs through my head.

    1. Do you hold it over your head in triumph?

    2. Of course! Although, I haven't figured out how to get it to float and slowly spin just inches above my hand yet....