Need a simple universal remote

Hello lazyweb!

My stepfather is functionally illiterate. Normally he can get by with help from my brother and I without too much difficulty, as we handle his mail for him. However, we’ve run into a situation where we’re kind of stuck: his television.

He has satellite television because the cable company wanted large amounts of money to run cable from the highway to the house. As seems to be the case lots of times with cable/satellite/television setups, this requires two remotes: the television remote for power and volume, and the cable/satellite remote for channels. The problem we’ve run into is that dad sometimes hits the wrong button and changes the channel, or the source, or something else on the TV or satellite and then only gets a blank screen or static. If he lived next door, we could walk over and fix it. It’s a two hour drive.

tekpal-remoteWhat we’d like to find is a simple universal remote. In other words, one that has only a few buttons and doesn’t require switching from “device” to “television” to use properly. Volume and power operate on the television; channel changing operates on the satellite receiver. Automatically. You’d think something like that would be out there. I’ve wanted something like that myself but never found it, though I haven’t looked particularly hard. It’s necessary for dad, or he’s going to go weeks without TV sometimes when neither my brother or I can get there right away. Before mom died, this wasn’t a problem; she’d fix things.


What would be ideal in appearance is this Tek Pal Remote Control. But that operates only on a TV. A basic two device remote
like Sony’s is a little more complicated, but would work if it didn’t require switching back and forth between the two devices. Unfortunately, it does require switching as far as I can tell.

I’ve found a couple that will lock the volume to the television, but none that lock the channel changing to the other device.

So, anyone got any suggestions?

SciFi Channel becomes Syfy… seriously

Press release
Syfy more clearly captures the mainstream appeal of the world’s biggest entertainment category, and reflects the network’s ongoing strategy to create programming that’s more accessible and relatable to new audiences. Syfy will continue to celebrate the traditional roots of the genre, while opening the brand aperture to accommodate a broader range of imagination-based entertainment.


Seriously? I’m not a huge fan of the term Sci-Fi because it connotes schlocky Lost in Space style entertainment as well as Klingon costume wearing losers. (This is one reason I don’t attend Norwescon.) But people also associate it with halfway decent science fiction and the like. It’s not that bad.


Syfy is awful. And I’m betting this is just an early move to get completely away from genre. Kind of like Court TV is now just edited scenes of cops arresting people called TruTV.

Syfy will flop. It will lose the few science fiction genre geeks still watching the channel, and it will not gain a general audience. Prepare for lots of bad reality television.