Imagine you are watching one of your favorite TV shows. The hero (or heroine) is about to deliver the most important line of the whole hour. He/she opens her/his mouth, and ---- a little box comes up on your screen, replacing your TV show with the message that your programming has been turned off because you haven't changed channels in a couple hours. The mysterious messenger tells you how to regain control of your TV - which you do - but by that time you are left to guess about the monumental pronouncement that was made by your hero/heroine. You call the message a son of a bitch (probably neither appropriate nor logical, but the first thing that enters your head), then sit back to try and enjoy your TV until the alien force once again takes over.

   Sound crazy? Well, tell that to  DISH because it happens every day, often several times a day. The first time it happened, I wondered why DISH would care one way or another how often I changed TV channels. Still, I figured all I had to do was call the DISH technical line, and request that they disengage that particular feature. The technician I talked to was very nice, but made it clear that I could not get rid of the annoying message and action, that it was part of the DISH operating system and I just had to live with it.

   I have thought about cancelling DISH, and trying some other provider, but they've been pretty good to us over the years. Why, in far northern New Hampshire, one DISH supplier braved our barely passable road with his low-slung service truck, to install a system so we could watch an hour or two of TV a week, using our small generator to power the TV. (It worked well, too.) Still, I'm getting tired of swearing at the TV every time the mysterious alien force shuts down my program. I'm also frustrated that I can no longer use their DISH Anywhere, "thousands of On Demand** titles anywhere" - one of their key marketing features and something included in the monthly bill they send me - because their new "plug in" makes  access impossible for any computer over about 10 years old. My computer operating system is quite adequate for everything else I do with it; why should DISH require me to buy a new TV to watch programs I pay for?

    Well, I don't really want to talk about the old-movie access problems. That may ultimately figure into a decision to leave DISH, but right now I'm just curious about why DISH can't control their own computer program. Every computer I've ever used, every software program I'm ever installed, has come with a "Preference" function that allows me to enable or disable virtually every facet of its program. Why, then, is it impossible for DISH to disable their annoying and completely unnecessary and unwanted feed shut-off? I've read science-fiction novels in which the computers gained control over their human masters, but I didn't think it had happened in real life. Was I naive?

   Beyond the stupidity of forcing me to change a TV channel when I don't want to, I can't imagine DISH's motive behind this feature. They aren't helping save energy (none of their business, anyway) because the TV stays on, just the programming goes away. They aren't nefariously trying to direct me to watch some station of their choice, rather than mine, because they have no idea where I might "surf" if I start changing channels. Come to think of it, the main reason I "surf" (and I suspect it's true for most everyone) is to avoid watching commercials. I would think that the sponsors of commercials on DISH would prefer that you didn't change channels, but stayed and endured their (longer and longer) ad breaks.

   All things considered, I think the DISH computers must have proven smarter than the DISH humans, and the machines are now running the operation. I'm going to look around and see if the same usurping of power has occurred with other providers. If I can find one that it still in the control of proficient human beings, I may make a change.




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