DirecTV remote vs. Mom

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My mom is staying with us for the week, helping out with babysitting while our normal babysitter is on vacation. So what I’m about to say comes from a place of love and eternal gratitude.

But for the life of me I don’t understand why she can’t figure out the DirecTV remote. Yesterday alone, she told me three times that she had “broken” our TV. I ensured her that she hadn’t, but she insisted.

"I don’t know what to tell you, David. I can’t change the channel."

Of course, all she had managed to do was to switch the input from HDMI to the antenna, which isn’t plugged into anything so it was just showing static. What was impressive about that is, in order to do that, she had to drag the slider all the way to the right and then manually change the channel. The last time I think I used the channel button instead of the guide was 1997.

After the second time, I gave her a basic overview of how to use the remote. Then my one-year old daughter took hold of the remote and once again changed the input, making my instructions as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

My sympathy became stronger than my desire to tell her, “Yup, this time it’s really broken, sorry, no TV for you!” So I wrote detailed instructions, including a diagram, several underlines and caps (“Do NOT touch this button.”)

It seems to have worked, and I hope she is able to catch up on her Days of Our Lives while my daughter is napping. But when the new, uncomplicated, user-friendly Apple TV comes out, I can’t think of one person more appropriate to buy one for than my Mom. -David

"The cloud" is at the airport.

While working on Dave’s video about the cloud and related services, I had the following phone conversation with my mom, who probably typed http://www.thecloud.com into her browser after getting off the phone with me.

Mom: What are you doing?
Me: Making a video about the cloud.
Mom: Oh. Do you have that?
Me: Yes - everyone does.
Mom: Is it any good? I saw a commercial for it. They were at the airport.

Yes, mom, it’s very good. -Matt


VCs, pitches and my mom in Georgia

I often get PR pitches that go something like this:

Laurie,

We think you’d be interested in covering _____. It’s a ____ service that changes the way we ____.

Awesome. Sometimes these services are really interesting, and sometimes they do change the way we _____. 

But ever so often, I can’t help but think: Would my mom back in Georgia care? Moreover, would my friends who live far outside the tech bubble be interested? So many times the tech world is a step ahead of behavior people will eventually adopt (mobile payments, location sharing). But sometimes I want to scream: “Really?”

I’m currently writing a story on GroupMe, a group text messaging startup that received tons of VC money and is currently enjoying valuation estimates in the $20-$30 million range. When I spoke to Betaworks co-founder and GroupMe investor Andy Weissman, he was excited about the startup because it hit the “my mom in Georgia” factor.

"It’s a good idea that would appeal to normal people,"  Weissman said.

I told him about my “mom down in Georgia” theory, and he says he uses a similar one called “my dad back in Florida.”

So, well done, GroupMe! My mom down in Georgia and Andy’s dad back in Florida are fans. Mom also uses Groupon. And weren’t there rumors of a $6 billion price tag?

So maybe the ‘rents are on to something. -Laurie