My recent frustration with common technologies

Remo Williams: The Adventure BeginsLast night, I sponsored a video night at my house for participants of my martial arts group. It was going to be a doubleheader. I wanted to show them Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, a fun martial arts film followed by The Last Ninja.

At the appointed hour, I placed the Remo Williams DVD into the player, when much to my chagrin, it would not play. It seems the DVD that I had purchased through Amazon.com was in PAL format. To be specific, it was in UK PAL format. The discovery that the video was in PAL rather than expected NTSC formatting created a sense of frustration in me. I immediately popped the DVD into the second DVD player I had on hand, unfortunately, i

t also would not play the DVD. At this point, plan A and B are out the window. Time to develop a new plan.

I knew my laptop was able to play DVDs, and I knew there was a way to play PAL formatted DVDs, so I pulled out my laptop, fired it up, and popped in the DVD. Wouldn’t you know it, it would not play on the default DVD player. So after a little bit of time researching the Internet, I discovered a solution. Part of the solution was that I had to change the regional formatting; this is how I learned I had to know it was UK PAL formatting. Did you know that Microsoft only allows you to change the regional formatting for DVD playing five different times before you can not change it? How stupid and annoying is that? I now have to find a program to override that restriction. Fortunately, I was able to set the right formatting option and get the video to play.

My next challenge was to connect my computer to the television. It appeared my only reasonable option was to use the HDMI connections. Unfortunately, I did not have a spare HDMI cable so I had to crawl behind the television and do some rewiring. Success! We were able to see the video on the television; however, we could not hear anything. It is amazing the little things that are not obvious when you are in a hurry. Very quickly, I grabbed the speakers from my desktop computer, and hooked them up to the computer. I was able to get sound when I disconnected the HDMI cable but lost sound when I plugged the cable back in. I attempted to changed the settings of the default speakers from HDMI to speakers, again with no luck. The last thing I tried was successful… I turned the mute off. Like I said, obvious things pass you by when you are in a hurry. After 30 minutes of troubleshooting, gathering equipment, and experimenting, our movie night began.

Movie night was a success but it could have been better, if I had been properly prepared. Because of the time delay in starting, not everyone could stay for the second feature.

Lessons learned:

  1. If you are giving a presentation, test your equipment and work out bugs well ahead of time. In this case, I did not test the DVD and did not realize it was PAL rather than NTSC.
  2. Always have alternate plans available. We were going to see this video one way or another, fortunately we got it to work through the television.
  3. Slow down when troubleshooting so that you will recognize the obvious. I lost time because I did not recognize the mute was on.

A presentation is a presentation, preparation is the key to its success.