As you probably know, you can buy devices from Apple, Amazon, and others that enable “streaming” on your television. This is particularly useful if you don’t have cable because it isn’t available on your road or because you’ve got better things to do with your money. If you do get such a device, the trick is to get it up and running.
Steve Jobs, the genius behind Apple, believed everything should be self-explanatory and intuitive. Not including written directions may be fine for Millennials and Gen X’ers, but not for those of us who grew up with model airplane and sewing kits, erector sets, and all the other things that came with directions. We so-called elderly people may have mastered E-mail, sort of, and do pretty well with Word. But wait ‘til you get one of these TV-enhancement suckers.
The first thing you need is that necessity of life called Wi-Fi. Your children and grandchildren won’t visit (once that’s again possible) unless you have a password. But even if you have it, there’s a catch. You need to be sure the signal from your router (a word that makes me think of plumbing) reaches the TV room.
I used to think a Fire Stick was something Boy Scouts used instead of matches, but the modern version is a very small doohickey you can get from Amazon, along with a mini-remote device. I ordered one a few years ago, and it arrived without directions, of course. Which didn’t really matter, since our router and the television room weren’t on speaking terms. I wasn’t about to uproot the TV for the sake of something I’d lived my whole life without. Cable is enough, even though I only know about “Oxy” and many other channels because I go by them on my way to CNN.
Then came the Coronavirus, meaning wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing, and stay-at-home. Two things occurred to me. One is that a few months ago we improved our Wi-Fi coverage, the other is that somewhere I still have that useless Fire Stick.
So I set about to give it a try, which began by looking everywhere before I found it. Then I located a vacant port on the back of the TV called HDM3. Then I figured out which end of the power cord fits into it—not the end with the power plug. That goes into a wall outlet.
At that point I gave in and went to Google where, no thanks to Steve Jobs, there are several links under “How to set up your Fire Stick device.” They all say more or less the same thing, emphasizing how simple it is.
Not exactly. I went to my TV, pointed the mini-remote at the screen, hit the “Home” button, and got a message on-the TV screen. “You need to replace your batteries.”
I can do that, I thought to myself, until I realized that unlike a flashlight this thing doesn’t have anything to turn and unscrew. There’s a small arrow on the back, but nothing happens if you push it. So, back to Google, where I found several “How to change the Fire Stick batteries” links, ranging from how easy it is (push and slide) to how no one can get the thing open.
I banged on it, pushed, pulled, no luck. Then the Pianist took over, and the next thing I knew it opened up. Turns out all you need are a pianist and two fresh AAA batteries. I had the first but no AAAs.
Back from a battery run, in they go, replace the back cover (a lot easier than taking it off), back to the TV room, hit the Home button on the mini-remote, and things start to liven up.
I won’t advise you “Don’t try this at home,” but be warned. If you get to the “set up” stage, you need to be armed with the name of your Wi-Fi network, your ID, various passwords, and your blood pressure reading.
Is it worth it? I’ll let you know when I get around to watching something. First I need to finish the book I’m reading, which is a page-turner and requires no technical expertise.