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How to adjust the timer on your VCR

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology

Simple gray rule

How to adjust the timer on your VCR
in just a few hundred easy steps

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1992, The Syracuse Newspapers

If you're like me, you probably thought technology was supposed to make your life easier.

All those gadgets and gizmos would give you more leisure time, right?

Fat chance, pal. I've begun to believe that the only benefit of all this newfangled modernity is more time to study the owner's manuals.

Take my new VCR.


Actually, it works great, but it's driving me crazy.

Of course, it's not one of those regulation Amurrican products with clear instruction manuals ("Place brick in hand and apply mortar"—that was really written on bag of good old U.S. cement a few years ago), so I have to decipher the Japenglish in the manual each time I need to do something with the VCR.

And that's precisely twice a year. Right after everybody else changes their clocks.

Don't get me wrong. I know how to change the time on a clock whenever daylight-saving time starts and ends. You push the button. Or maybe you turn the knob.

That's just the problem with my VCR. It doesn't have a button. It has BUTTONS. You don't just press one of them. You manipulate an army of buttons—if you're lucky.

Step 1 begins when you press a tiny button at the left of the remote control. That produces a menu on the screen. If the menu shows the time, no matter what the time is, even if the time is "00:00:00," you have successfully completed the first step.

If the menu on the screen does not show the time, look through the menu choices for something that says either "time" or "clock" (or maybe "time of day"-I think I've seen all three), and then look for a number in front of the menu choice that you are looking for.

Stay with me here.

Now quickly reach down to the equally tiny number buttons on the remote control and find the number that matches the one that is displayed on the screen in front of the choice that you want to make. Don't delay this essential act for more than a second or two, or you'll find the menu has done something really clever—it's disappeared.

If that has happened, go back to Step 1. If that has not happened, go to Step 2.

Step 2 is only a little easier. Reach down to the tiny numbers on the remote and find the one that matches the hour. Do this with your right hand while holding the remote with your left. With your foot (shoes off, socks on, if you like) turn the pages of the owner's manual to the section titled "Setting the Clock" and look for a discussion of "24-hour time."

(Yes, I realize you figured that even in a recession, all time was 24-hour time, even though some of us seem to work 25-hour days, but VCRs sometimes prefer such settings as "14:00:00" instead of "2 p.m.," for reasons that are obscure.)

If you need to use 24-hour time, look for another clock in the living room and see if it's noon yet. If it's not, you're in luck, since you can pretend 24-hour time is the same as regular time, and you can go on to Step 3.

If it's past noon, add "2" to every hour past "12" and go to Step 3. In Step 3, press the tiny buttons so that the screen shows the right time-if the screen is still showing the menu. (If not, return to Step 1.) Then look for another tiny button marked "ENTER" on the remote control and press it, too. Do it quickly, or the menu may disappear, and you'll have to return to Step 1.

Now look at the menu and find something that says "DONE" or "EXIT" or something like that (I wish I could be more help at this point, but usually I never get this far). Then press the tiny button on the remote that matches the number on the screen.

There! You've set the time. Now you're ready to set the timer to record your favorite shows.

Got the manual at your feet? Remote control ready? Two aspirin standing by?

On second thought, maybe we should cover this at another time.

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