In Which The Beans Discuss The TV Remote Control, Unnecessary Complexity Of Said

ZEN-DEN POLITELY EXPLAINED TO ME that I needed to re-frame my irritation.  That I had to let my mind embrace a new way of thinking about some of the little daily irritations that bug the snot out of me.

“Chickiedoodle,” he said, “it’s all just dust in the wind. Insignificant.”

[Yes, he sometimes call me Chickiedoodle.  Grow up people, we’re married & cutesy nicknames happen.]

“It’s not worth worrying about these small things.  I respect your feelings about them, and you’re right– but you gotta let it go.”

There’s a reason why he’s called ZEN-Den, you know.  He can get mellow, philosophical at the interconnectedness of life, almost without trying.  Little things in daily life don’t bug him so much.

But me?  I see the faults.  I remember the faults.  And then I tend to mutter.

Which is how this conversation started.

~ • 📺 • ~

Artist’s rendering of sensible TV remote control that has only what is needed on it, written in large letters and numbers.

~ • 📺 • ~

YOU SEE, I WANTED TO watch something on cable TV, but I was once again thwarted by the unnecessary complexity of our remote control.

Hence, I was muttering to Z-D about how ridiculous it is that to turn on the television one does not use the “TV” button on the remote control.  No, one uses something called “Input” while ignoring the button that you’d think logically turns on the television.

But it doesn’t.

And if by chance you forget and hit the logical “TV” button, then everything goes wonky on the screen, and you’re left not watching television because you, a woman who dislikes gadgety things on principle, can’t remember how to turn on the darned television.

So I end up not watching cable TV, while complaining loudly about the intentionally irritating nonsensical TV remote control.

Dust in the wind?  Not buying it.

It’s a conspiracy to drive me crazy crazier.

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Usually.

103 thoughts on “In Which The Beans Discuss The TV Remote Control, Unnecessary Complexity Of Said”

  1. First you had me at Chickiedoodle! Second, I don’t play dvd’s because it’s complex and requires two different remotes with a lot of non-intuitive pushing. The husband is in charge of setting up movies and then reverting it back to cable TV so I can just turn it on and change channels. We have remotes that come with the TV and remotes that came from our cable company. We even bought something called a universal remote that is supposed to do everything. It doesn’t or we are too stupid to program it properly. Working on my zen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kate, YES! We have the same “requires two different remotes with a lot of non-intuitive pushing” phenomenon going on here. I never try to play a movie on the TV, that’s for Z-D to figure out. I do, on occasion, attempt to turn on the TV, but often give up because it’s insanity. On the other hand, I do read more books because I can’t watch TV, so there’s that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Chickiedoodle. Yup. It doesn’t get any better than that. My husband is not particularly good with using a remote. He is good at waving it in the air and saying why can’t I change the channel…..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I miss the good old days of just getting up off the couch and turning a knob to change the channel. Just twelve simple choices, most of them snow. Unless you had a UHF antenna, then you could get about 70 more channels full of static in beautiful non-HD!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen, brother! Growing up I was the TV remote control. A job I did well. We had 3 stations, occasionally 4 on a clear day. Turning a knob made sense then, would make sense now.

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    1. Jill, I’m with you. There are too many channels and on our cable the channels repeat three times, apparently in different iterations? I only want one channel, one time, with one simple remote control. And that is asking too much, Sleepy. ☹️

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  4. Ha ha ha! I just have to look at the TV and it goes wonky- it’s a conspiracy I tell ya. Never ever would I try to play a DVD or try to tune into Netflix in spite of simple hand written instructions . There are FOUR remotes on the table – Flipping four –

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Susan, Zen-Den wrote instructions for me, too! He has high hopes for me, but I can’t figure out which remote control to start with so things tend to go south quickly when I try to turn on the TV.

      Four remotes?! You poor thing. We have three in one room, then two in the other rooms. It’s nuts.

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  5. While I cannot advocate for The Goode Olde Dayes, when I had to leave my seat to change channels, turn up/down the volume, or constantly “fix the flop”–which was what we called adjusting the horizontal hold on our lousy tv Way Back When–I can say that remotes have gotten ridiculous. And we don’t even have cable or dish, just Over The Air HD Antenna.

    Worse than all that is the Smart TV’s remote, which we got based on our son’s recommendation, for the lakehouse. That thing is IMPOSSIBLE. It has no logic to it whatsoever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nance, I understand your aversion to getting up and down to change the channels. I might be remembering it through rose-colored glasses, but at least I could turn on the TV back then.

      You nailed the problem with all TV remote controls, smart or otherwise, THERE IS NO DISCERNIBLE LOGIC. Or consistency among them. Simple + the same would go a long way to solving this problem.

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  6. Problem solved:

    “Alexa, turn on the TV.”
    “OK, turn on the TV.”

    “Alexa, more volume.”
    “OK, more volume.”

    “Alexa, vacuum the house.”
    “OK, vacuum the house . . . but I don’t do windows.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. nancy, I don’t want one of those things in my house. If it’s listening to me when I speak to it, how do I know for sure that it’s not listening to me all the time? Alexa creeps me out.

      I just want one simple TV remote control that I can use when I want to watch TV. ‘Tis a dream, apparently. 😠

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I wonder what all those buttons on our remotes are designed to do?

        We use 17 buttons (the 16 on your Zen Diagram plus “Cable”) ~> the other 97+ buttons lie idle.

        BTW: I’m with you about Alexa . . . and Echo . . . and . . . ~> I don’t trust ’em. 😀

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        1. I have no idea what those buttons do, and I don’t want to know. I think that the cable company/TV manufacturers are putting themselves out of business. I can watch TV shows on my laptop or phone, so I really don’t need cable/TVs anymore. It’s just habit to use them, I guess.

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  7. We once had to use three remotes to watch a DVD. We got rid of the DVD and life became 1/3 simpler. Every few years we invite the hubs’ niece down for a visit. She squares us away. Ah those good old days when NBC was on 4; CBS, on 2; and ABC was on 7. And the good stuff was on local pre-PBS, 13. Like Magic Castle. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Janet, in one room we have three remotes like you did, for the same reason you had them. The niece idea has a certain ring to it. I’ve got one in college studying astro physics, so I bet she could make sense of my problem.

      I agree about the good old days. I grew up with NBC on 4, ABC on 6, CBS on 10. Reception for PBS was iffy where I lived– I think it was 34, maybe. So simple. *sigh*

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  8. I so agree with you “chickiedoodle”! “Dust in the wind” my ***! I absolutely hate all of these non- sensicle remotes! On the TV in the master bedroom, you have to use 2 remotes just to turn the darn thing on. Then it takes forever for the picture and sound to appear! Nothing is easy these days. Everything is supposed to make things easier, but instead make life so frustrating! You’ve definitely hit a nail on the head with this one!

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    1. Beth, the remotes are just plain stupid. I had no difficulty with any of them until the last few years when they became illogical and unnecessarily complex. And the whole thing about using more than one remote control to turn on/watch TV is nonsense. I agree it’s odd that it takes so long for TVs to show an image now. When did that start?

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  9. When you live alone, it becomes necessary to master the devils – those remotes. When husband hooked up our system, it required turning on the satellite receiver (remote #1), the stereo receiver (remote #2 for surround sound), and the TV (remote #3). Then we got the Roku (remote #4). After he passed and I wanted a new “modern” TV (think LED vs big screen), I got rid of the surround sound (stereo receiver would not connect to new TV and all those speakers around the room were a pain in the ***.) But I still have 3 remotes – Satellite, TV (to change the – yes, Allie – input when I want to stream something), and Roku. If I could hook the DVD player up (not enough connectors on the TV), I would have 4. Keeps my brain working. But – I wilL admit there are a lot of buttons on those things that I neither understand nor use.

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    1. Carol, you’ve inspired me to try to learn more about these remote controls. I pretty much have been Oscar the Grouch about the whole situation, but I’ll try to do better in the future. I like anything that keeps my brain clicking, so if I approach this situation from that perspective maybe I’ll get the hang of it. It just seems so unnecessarily complicated…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I once wrote a post about how, growing up, I was the remote. My father would just say “put the ball game on.” I was way better than Alexa. I knew what ballgame he meant and what station it was on.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My husband would agree with you completely. Between the two of us, I’m the one who knows how to work the remote. He’s happy in his ignorance though. It’s easier for him to have me get the cable, Netflix, blu-ray, etc. working if they’ve gone wonky. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carrie, I suspect that in every household there’s one person who knows how to use the remote controls to get things to show up on the screen– and there’s one person who just doesn’t. Opposites attract. Same as it ever was.

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        1. Carrie, kids who grew up with the illogical ways of remote controls live in a world unto themselves. Perfectly understandable that they know how to turn on the TV. But for the rest of us… it’s a struggle.

          Your tweet was cute. Had to RT it!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Betsy, I don’t understand it, nor do I understand why I should try to understand it. Aren’t there some brainy people out there who can build a better remote control? One that makes sense? That’s what I want.

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        1. My theory is that soon no one will be watching TV on a TV so there’s no money in creating better, simplier remote controls. We all can watch TV now on computers or smart phones, so designing a new TV remote control is of little interest to anyone who could do that. Just saying…

          Liked by 1 person

  12. I like your remote, rendered or not. Simple, to the point and without all those odd ‘extras’ (like “Menu” What is it, a remote control or an easy way to summon food?) or the mystifying “A B C AND D” at the bottom of one of mine. Those only work if I’m streaming something, but the manufacturers don’t tell you what they’re for. And the whole “TV” business is silly.. of COURSE it’s the TV. That’s what the damned remote is supposed to be FOR! Me? I blame men (but then I blame them for lots of stuff that probably isn’t their fault) with their obsessive need to keep ‘fixing’ things and making them ‘easier to use” – ironic really because what we end up with would flummox Einstein (IMHO).

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    1. Embeecee, you said: “of COURSE it’s the TV. That’s what the damned remote is supposed to be FOR!” EXACTLY!

      Seems so obvious, but then I’m all about simplicity and intuition and solutions. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. As far as I’m concerned our earlier remote controls were doing fine– and needed no enhancement. However, at the moment I’m stuck with these goofy things that I hope will soon be replaced by commonsensical devices.

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  13. I can generally get the TV to go on, but I watch only one show a week if fund-raisers don’t get in the way. It’s the cell phone that drives me nuts. It’s not MY phone, it’s John’s. He tells people he has a smart phone with a dumb user. If he’s not looking my way, I nod vigorously. His mantra is, “Why can’t it just have an on and an off button?” As you might imagine, I rue the day I set up his phone to stream NY radio stations. They are the bane of my existence, because he can’t get them to come on, and once on, he can’t turn them off. Surely his phone is equal to four remotes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anne, I am certain that his phone is equal to four remotes. What a ridiculous problem you have there! I have a bottom of the line Apple smart phone, and it’s easy to use– but not quite as easy as what John wants. Maybe the NY radio stations could quietly disappear from his phone, and he’d be none the wiser as to how that happened? Just a suggestion… 😉

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  14. In our basement we have a TV for watching when we’re spinning on our bikes or on the treadmill. Even Mr Science hasn’t figured out how to change the volume on the TV using the remote. If we need to adjust the volume, we have to physically go to the TV and change it. I’ve started to consider it part of my workout 🙂
    I’m grateful that I at least know how to turn it on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, take immense pride in your ability to turn on your TV. Often I am unable to do that. I feel a bit better about this situation knowing that Mr. Science has probs, too, with remote controls. Why must this be an issue for so many people? No answer here, just irritation.

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  15. Wait, you only have one remote? I just went to count and we have four, which of course doesn’t include the one for the fireplace. I have no idea what each does and I have no intention of ever learning. I’ve heard something about a “universal remote” which sounds vaguely promising but so far my husband has been OK with being the Master of the Remotes. If he dies or becomes otherwise incapable of working the remote, I will sell the TV (it’s just easier that way).

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    1. Janis, we have 4 TVs that have among them 9 remote controls [+ one for the fireplace & one for our ancient Bose radio system]. Occasionally, very rarely, I want to watch TV when Z-D isn’t around, so I try to figure out how to turn one of the TVs on. Sometimes I give up on the first one, then try a second one. It’s usually to no avail. If by chance I do get a TV to work, I cannot duplicate my process again… which is depressing. No TV would be easier, I’ll give you that.

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  16. Fun post Chickiedoodle, but I do believe that this post is living proof that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently. Not better or worse mind you: just differently.
    And I think just to be safe, I’ll leave it at that 😀

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    1. Norm, you may be onto something there with your analysis. I look for direct solutions to problems, no fiddle-faddle or fancification. Just let me turn on the darned TV. Men, if we are to believe from this commenting sample, want to make turning on the TV some gigantic challenge. Whatever…

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  17. Bless all the zen-ners. On one hand, it’s all dust in the wind, on the other hand, uptight people are trying to maximize their time, man! Stuff like that TOTALLY gets to me. Also, why we can’t have universal remotes? Remember how popular that was for a while? What happened? Why we need four again? Good mercy.

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    1. joey, I appreciate his zen-i-ness, I do. But the remote control issue is one that rankles. And you can’t talk me out of it. I think universal remotes turned out to be so ding-dang complicated that they fell out of favor. We never had one, but that’s what I heard.

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  18. Chickiedoodle, that’s cute. Obviously you’ve struck a chord with this post. Wonder if the remote control people will feel shamed into changing their product. Universal is a crock. We have four remotes. One turns the TV on and off and if we want to watch a movie or Apple TV, it also controls the input. One changes channels on our cable and adjusts volume. One operates the DVD player which, when we are watching a movie, also takes over as the volume control and we mute the volume on the TV. And then there’s Apple TV which has its own remote but through which we can listen to the music I have on my iTunes. No way in the world that a universal remote would do all of that. With that being said though, I do agree with Zen-Den that there’s no sense getting all worked up over something so…universal. In the olden days (coming from an Italian Catholic household), my dad would be in the living room watching TV and he would call my mom who was washing dishes in the kitchen to come and change the channel for him. Talk about remote!

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    1. Janet, I’m impressed that you know what each of your remote controls does– and that presumably you know where they are. [There’s another facet of this conversation: finding the remote control can be a challenge around here.] I’ve never heard a good word about universal remote controls– probably for the reason you just described.

      Yes, I know that Z-D is right about chilling out over the remote control mess… and I’m trying… but honestly it’s one of those dumb probs in life that I don’t think needs to be in my life.

      I adore your childhood definition of a remote control. Your mother, eh? I was our family’s remote control, although I was usually sitting close to the TV so it made some sense. And I was a kid who could be bossed around. Obviously.

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      1. The funny part is that I don’t watch TV that much at all. When my husband was visiting his mother in Oregon for extended periods the living room was empty and the TV off for days. I watch baseball and binge watch Netflix on my computer but that’s about it.

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  19. I agree with you about the unnecessary complexity of so many basic things (including TV remotes). And I totally agree that I want to take my frustrations seriously. Certainly not dust in the wind! 🙂

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    1. Donna, thank you for your support on this trying issue. Life is difficult enough without being encumbered with stupid technology. Make gadgets smart/intuitive/cute, or make them go away!

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  20. He suggested you needed to re-frame it? Oh man, he is good …

    I’d probably go for the “not watching TV” option. I did that for a couple of years when I was on my own. I read a lot and studied at lot. But I’d no idea what people – who did watch TV – were talking about. I felt like a bit of an alien. I never considered that decision may’ve been my subconscious protecting me from my issues with remotes … till now 😉

    Like LA’s husband above, I’ve waved the remote at the TV in frustration. I was visiting my folks where I’d tried each & every one of them. And I was missing the start of the game doncha know. When my Mum walked into the room, I was so frustrated I couldn’t speak and just gesticulated, waving the remote at the screen. She giggled and told *everyone* how it made her feel uber competent. So, there you go, I made an 80-year old woman giggle *and* feel more technically competent than her 60-year old daughter. Just call me a service provider.

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    1. Deb, Z-D may be a lawyer by education, but he’s a natural-born therapist at heart. He knows all the lingo– and likes helping people.

      I don’t watch much TV and never watch any reality TV. The result of that is much like what you mentioned. I feel like an alien when people start talking about shows/characters. I’m always: huh?

      You made your mother’s day, didn’t you? What a fun story that I can totally relate to. I’ve been known to throw uncooperative remote controls onto the sofa, allowing them to stay there until someone in this house gathers them up, putting them in their proper home in a basket on the end table. If left to me, the remotes would just have to live among the sofa cushions for eternity– as punishment for their willful behavior.

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  21. I’m with you, Chickiedoodle. (Sorry, I’m sure only Zen Den can call you that, but it’s just so darn cute). I’m much more Zen Den than you, b u t, I consistently and frequently hit the wrong button on that stupid remote (yes, it’s the remote that’s stupid, not us) and I either inadvertently turn the TV off, or on mute, or pause it, or whatever is the opposite of what I’m trying to do.
    So, I go to my reading chair and bring out a good book. :-0

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pam, you may call me Chickiedoodle. It’s not exclusive to Zen-Den, it’s just that no one much remembers that nickname anymore so I rarely hear it outside of our home.

      I can understand how you do the opposite of what you want to do when you engage with your remote control. They are sneaky little techie gadgets that irritate on purpose. I’m with you, though. Because of my TV remote difficulties, I end up reading more often that I might. So that’s good.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Prefer my books…although, I’m really into some of the PBS shows, like Victoria! 🙂
        I love loving nicknames. My mom used to call me sweetie-pie. Sounds sickly sweet, but it always made me feel good. My guy and I call each other ‘dearie’ at times. Old-fashioned, yet kinda cute. ❤

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        1. I’ve yet to watch Victoria, but I know that I’ll love it when I do. Are you into The Crown? That’s a show I adore.

          Nicknames are fun, I agree. Ally Bean is one of my nicknames as a matter of fact, dearie. 😊

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  22. At home, we have a combined remote that looks like it could control an airport runway. Here in SC, it takes two remotes to even turn it on. To make it even more complicated, there is no menu included so you never know what you are watching or what is coming up next. Now, that really makes me crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judy, I’ve seen photos of those gigantic remote controls like the one you mention. Are you certain that you aren’t controlling some nearby airport runway and just don’t know it? 😉

      I like menus for the reasons you mention. We have one, but unfortunately our stations repeat so many times that the menu is lengthy, meaning that by the time I’ve figured out what I want to watch it’s about half over. *meh*

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    1. Margaret, no doubt. What I’ve learned here in the last day is that almost everyone hates their remote control. Makes me wonder how much longer any of us will be watching TV shows on TVs.

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    1. In My Cluttered Attic, many commenters have suggested that love of or hatred of remote controls is gender-based. I’m beginning to think otherwise. I’ve come to believe that patience is what allows some people to understand + like their remote controls– she admits impatiently.

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  23. THANK YOU! Good grief, I fear every time we get a new cable box because it also means we have a new remote. They just keep getting needlessly fancier. Your mock-up is perfect. All I ever want are buttons for on/off, channel numbers, volume, mute, and channel up/down arrows. That’s all! Instead there are now so many options I have no idea what they are. For instance, I have three marked “A”,” “B,” and “C.” I have zero clue what they do. I am not-so slowly turning into my father. – Marty

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    1. Marty, you’re welcome. We have some letters on our latest remote control, too. Like you, I’ve no idea what they do or why they’re there. Maybe they’re all show and no go? Letters added to the remote control to jazz up the thing.

      I’m pleased that you like my drawing. I wish that my simple remote control was a reality– and that I made a bit of money every time one was sold. I’d be rich. 😊

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  24. Ha! Another reason I’m grateful not to have cable. My apple TV remote has three buttons. I use two of them. I have another remote for the TV, but I only use the power button (and occasionally the volume) on that remote. But we’re staying with my in-laws right now. They have cable. Their remote is for both their cable AND their smart TV. I mean…I’m a smart girl. But that is just nonsense. And leaves me prone to muttering. Probably why I’m also married to a rather cucumber cool sort.

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    1. Kate, we have cable because that’s how we get our internet; it’s all one package. We get about three gazillion and one channels with this cable, but when you can’t turn on the TV they are useless. [Even when you can turn on the TV most of them are useless.] I understand your frustration with your in-laws’ remote control. Confusing and nonsensical, that’s what remotes are all about. Ain’t life grand?

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  25. In the remote’s defense, I blame the cable company…. if you have cable and not something else? Or I’ll blame the something else! If it was JUST a TV, I bet the TV button would just turn it on! But noooooo…. It’s TV through a box of some kind and blah blah. JUST LET ME SEE ME SHOW!

    Translation: I feel your pain.

    Suggestion: Removable label with TV printed on it placed lovingly on the INPUT button?

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    1. Tara, you’re probably right that when the remote was created it went straight to turning on the TV. But that stupid cable box showed up and the remote lost its ability, undermined by the darned box. The label idea is a good one. I wonder if I can make one small enough to fit on the remote? 🤔

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  26. Love the name Chickiedoodle. I had a horrible time trying to figure out a remote and a TV with a DVD player attached to it. Finally had to corral a kid who of course figured it out instantly.

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    1. L. Marie, remember when kids came to the door and asked if you wanted your lawn mowed or your leaves raked? Well, I think that kids could go door-to-door in our neighborhood offering to make sense of remote controls. I’d pay big bucks for that kind of service! 😊

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    1. teacherturnedmommy, I think your solution is the best one. However, short of having a kid around, the companies who make the remote controls could indulge all of us by making a remote that was Simple. Easy. Intuitive. Just saying…

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  27. Worse is needing MULTIPLE remote controls to operate a television because SOMEONE in the household insists on having BONUS PARTS like surround sound and video games and the like. I’m with you, Ms. Bean.

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    1. Kate, oh dear! We have PlayStation on one of the TVs, but I never activate it so I hadn’t thought of it as contributing even more to woes. I feel for you.

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