Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tragedies of modern technologies

It all started, at 10PM one night,  when I cozied up in my bed to watch, what sounded like, an interesting 1974 movie called “The Conversation” starring Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest. I was about 3 seconds into the movie when I saw a blue screen on the TV with said “V-CHIP Protected. Enter Password”. Initially I thought I must have pressed some button on the remote by accident and tried all kind things to get it reset. I found I could view other channels, but not the one showing “The Conversation”. It seemed odd at first and then all hell broke lose!

I am sure most of us haven’t heard of v-chip, let alone its function :-) at least I hadn’t, until the struggle. Well, here is the revelation – according to the wikipedia -

V-chip is a generic term used for television receivers allowing the blocking of programs based on their ratings category. It is intended for use by parents to manage their children's television viewing.

The V-chip works much like closed captioning as it uses the vertical blanking interval in the television signal to send and receive a special code in the programming which indicates the show's score according to a simple numerical rating system for violence, sex, and language.”

Tell me, honestly, how many of you understood it? Well to simplify it, its basically a technology which allows you to control which channels can be viewed/not-viewed on your TV set. A.K.A. Parental Control, if set, it shows a password screen whenever any channel broadcasts materials which the v-chip decides to be inappropriate. And unless you enter the password which you have set, you cannot view the channel.

Now, having cleared what it is, the real struggle for me was to find 2 things after I started getting a blue screen which asked for a password (I had no idea what the password was, how it was set in the first place and i had no TV manual)

1. Why was it asking for a password?

2. If possible, how to reset it?

The answer to the first question was pretty straight forward. I googled and I got a million sites which told me why my TV was asking for password. Mine was a second hand TV, I soon figured that the seller thought it was good idea to have the parental control on (by setting a password) before selling it to me without the manual or the password.

The answer to next question was trickier! I searched again.

One site said, you need to have the original remote if you want to reset the forgotten password. I looked at my remote with great deal of suspicion, I couldn't decide if it was the original. I then saw that it was bandaged at the bottom, which relieved me, because, I thought, chances of someone bandaging a original remote is greater than someone bandaging a replacement remote (Don’t ask me the logic behind this reasoning, I call it calculated risk!).

Ok, I thought, I seem to have the original remote. Now the next step. How to reset the password.

Did I tell you that I had a Sansui TV? Well, I had.

I searched again with keyword like “Sansui v-chip password reset”, “Sansui v-chip info” etc. In the process I discovered that many other gadgets, apart for TVs, like VCRs, DVD players etc can also have v-chip technology. So I searched again, this time with keywords “Sansui TV v-chip password reset”, “Sansui TV v-chip info” etc ! (notice the letters ‘TV’ in the search criteria, crucial thing!)

I found very few sites with Sansui on them. Many sites had other TVs like Orion or Emerson. Then I found out the reason, Orion Inc, it seems, sells its product under 2 brands Orion and Sansui. Not only that, it also sells its TV chassis to other manufacturers like Emerson. Very interesting info indeed, I am sure I would have been more excited had it been any other time, but not very useful for me, unfortunately, at that moment! I was still stuck with my blue screen and password.

So now I changed my search keywords to “Orion TV v-chip password reset”, “Orion TV v-chip info” etc.

I found one blog which seemed to have the detailed instruction to reset password. I screamed in ecstasy, in my mind though, as it was close to midnight and my wify was asleep already, tired of waiting for me.

The instruction was simple enough. Hold down the volume down key and the 0 button at the same time for 2 to 10 seconds to reset! Wow – that’s simple, I thought, So I did it. Nothing happened. I thought may be I can change the combo of buttons, So I did volume down + 1, volume down +2 etc until I reached volume down + 9. Then I ran out of buttons. So I switched to volume down + volume up, volume up + channel up etc until I think I had exhausted all the combinations. Nothing worked. I was thoroughly frustrated :-(

So I turned back to google. I searched more blogs. I found another blog, which had suspiciously similar instruction, which I now was sure was put in there by some sadists just to harass people like me by making us doing stupid things in desperation.

However, I was so frustrated by this time that I could have eaten rocks and sand if the instruction asked me to do so in order to reset my password.

The instruction said, lower your volume to 0, hold the TV’s vol down button and the press 0 button on the remote at the same time for 2 to 10 seconds. I set about to try this fully expecting it fail and imagining me trying all the combinations again !

I followed this instruction and guess what! IT WORKED!!  YAYYYY!!! I could now watch the movie again– just in time for the closing credits!

I patted myself on the back and fell asleep.

Moral of the Story

If you are looking for an instruction to do something, and you find one which says “Bend over backwards, touch the ground with your tongue while pressing the 0 button on the remote and volume down button on TV with your toe” just FOLLOW IT. It might just work!

happy follower :-)

Friday, February 20, 2009

About Gym, losing weight and maintenance !

First of all, let me clarify one thing before I make further statements. This is not a lesson or teaching on how to lose weight. This is my experience and interpretation of things related to gym or weight loss. I may be right for some, and totally wrong for others. I accept that fact.

Over the years, while talking to various people, I had many questions raised about gym and weight loss. None more so than the golden question “how do I lose weight?”. In my belief, I think this is probably the most frequently asked question in the world.

My answer to this question is simple “hit the gym, at least 4 times a week for an hour a day”. Well, I can see that most people are not very encouraged by this answer, because they expected me to say something which they can use as a proverbial ‘silver bullet’ to lose weight. Unfortunately, as in the proverb, there is no silver bullet when it comes to weight loss, toning or maintenance.

I will try here in this blog to clear out some of the misconceptions, incorrect understanding about various things related to toning, weight loss and body maintenance.

#1 Weight Lifting or Weight Training – What are they and do I need it?

Well, most people have heard and know about weight lifting because its one of the popular sports. But most people also confuse weight training with weight lifting. So when I tell somebody to go to gym and use weights, their immediate reaction is - its not for them.

Here is the truth. Weight lifting is a specialized sport. Where as weight training is a technique used to tone various muscles of the body with the help of weights. So as you can see the 2 are really apples and oranges. Most of us would never need to do weight lifting, But most of us need to train using weights.

No other exercise (aerobics, jogging etc) helps you lose more weight than weight training. By using weights to work out various muscles of your body, you can burn more calories and increase your metabolic rate for a longer period of time than with any other exercise for the same amount of workout.

#2 Can I lose Weight if I just walk everyday.

Answer to this question is a simple question. How much calories will you burn in your walk? If you can burn 500 calories or more every day with, say, an hour of walk then probably you could lose weight. However, as most of us know, burning 500 calories or more in about an hour of walk is going to strenuous, if not impossible, for most of us. The reason is the actual interpretation of this question , which is “can I do something which is basically laid back, and does not put too much strain on me physically and still lose weight?” Answer, as you can imagine, is NO.

#3 Dieting and Diet Control

These are 2 completely different things. Most acceptable definition of dieting is “intake of low calorie, low fat, low carb, high protein food over a period of time to lose weight”

Diet control is controlling the intake (amount) of food that you normally eat.

So, the question is , which is better. Well, my real answer is which ever works for you. But more honest answer is this. Dieting, in my view, is un-natural for the simple reason that it wants you to change your natural eating habits. We are all born and brought up with a particular eating habits which are very specific to the community , race, religion we belong to. And all of them are good as time has proven them to be.

I believe its almost impossible to completely forget what you used to eat and start having a completely new kind of diet. You will go back, sooner of later, to what you have been eating for most of your life.

So my take on this is simple – Don't waste your time, money and mental peace on trying to diet. Invest instead on controlling your diet, which should be easier because there are NO restrictions on what you can eat, only on how much you eat.

Of course, diet control will work more effectively if its also accompanied by gym! :-)

#4 Which is easier – Weight Loss or maintenance

I say none,  unfortunately! :-)

You need to have enough dedication, energy and drive to lose weight. You need same amount of all 3, if not more, to maintain your body. When God put us in this world, he did not think it a good idea for the man to lose weight once and enjoy for the rest of his life. I am sure God is working on Man 2.0! :-)

So follow the 3 golden rules

1. Go to gym at least 4 times a week for 1 hour each day

2. Use weights to train various muscles of your body along with a bit of aerobics or jogging or walking

3. Diet control

Ciao and take care!