DVD Player and Dragon Die

Our DVD player died on Sunday and I never imagined that being without one – or purchasing a replacement – could be so stressful!

In October 2008 we bought a Maraton DVD player (model 3206) with a ONE YEAR warranty from a shop in Jerusalem. We paid 270 shekels – at the time that converted to approx. $71 which we felt was a ridiculous amount of money for a player we could have purchased at Wal-mart for about $39, but that was the best price we found in the greater Jerusalem area. Since the player is used for (too) many hours per week, I guess we got our money’s worth.

When it died I secretly fantasized about having a quiet apartment where everyone would use their time more wisely, e.g., read a book, magazine or newspaper, learn Torah, practice Hebrew reading or conversation, go out somewhere (anywhere!) and leave me in peace and quiet for a few hours, etc. But that dream was not realized. Instead both of my guys – and our lone soldier – crammed into my office and living room with laptops to watch videos online. After a few days of that unreasonable activity of tying up bandwidth I demanded that we purchase a new DVD player so I could have my office back!

In additon to the anxiety that ensued during the DVD player mourning period the apartment above us is being renovated, making it impossible for me to concentrate on my work because I can’t think above the sound of rotohammers, banging, and crashes as they dump broken drywall and bricks, etc. down the chute from their window to the dumpster. And there is construction dust everywhere that has set off my asthma and allergies, causing me to feel ill.

In honor of my completion of our US tax return (another high-anxiety project because of our foreign status) Michael agreed on Tuesday to go to the mall with me (a huge sacrifice since he loathes shopping malls) to make the important new DVD player purchase. However, he demanded prerequisites be met first: a list of the old player’s specifications compiled, online research regarding new technical options and pricing for comparison (I used Zap.co.il). He arrived home late from work so we didn’t get to the mall until almost 7 pm with my list:

  • Dolby Digital, Compact Disc Digital Audio and Video
  • MP 3
  • MPEG 4 Digital Video
  • P-SCAN
  • USB Port/Network compatible
  • Multiple Region Code Compatible (for American and European formats)
  • High Definition (HDMI port)

While we were in Office Depot looking at the four units they offered, he received a reminder call about an 8:15 pm lecture that he had planned (and forgotten) to attend with a friend. When he lost his patience over the lack of customer service in Office Depot (completely non-existent – as though we were invisible), we rushed over to Shechem Electronics where 3 sales people were helping 3 other groups of customers. By the time I managed to get one of them to give us prices on the unmarked boxes, Michael wasn’t willing to do business with them either because of their lack of attentiveness to his questions and his desire to get to the lecture on time. So we left the mall with Yisrael’s pout almost dragging on the ground.

Because Michael (who works for a fuel company) constantly forgets to put gas in the car, I swung into the Delek station before going home. We were there for TWENTY-FIVE minutes! The Delek company car we drive has a “dragon” transponder at the entry to the gas tank that communicates with the gas pump to automatically record the fuel amount into his employee account. As with the DVD player, the dragon died. The pump wouldn’t recognize the car and refused to allow fuel to be pumped in. After trying three different pumps, the young Israeli attendant said in heavy accented English “I can’t help you”, and walked away!

Fortunately the station manager witnessed what had happened and got on the phone with the office, took Michael’s ID, completed a form, punched a bunch of numbers into the pump and filled the tank. He then sternly instructed Michael to tell the office to repair the car in the morning because he would not do this for us again. I was thankful that Michael was in the car because I don’t possess a company ID and would have been praying the tank wouldn’t hit empty all the way to the only other non-Delek gas station in town, where I would have had to pay for the gas.

When he informed the office today that the car needed repair they insisted that I take it to a different Delek station and try it there first because the problem might be related to the pump. Michael explained that it was tried on 3 different pumps, but… So I phoned him from another station to report that it wasn’t working there either and then he was told they’ll get back to him tomorrow with instructions on where to take it for repair.

In the meantime I drove my friend Leah to Modi’in today because she needed to cash an American check at Cheerfully Changed. After a frustrating experience where they couldn’t cash a particular check because they were told that checks from that organization were being held for 2 weeks, we checked out the shopping centers in Modi’in. We located a very nice mall where we enjoyed shopping – and lunch at one of my favorite places, Aroma Espresso Bar (their cafe’ mocha and portobello mushroom-pesto sandwiches are excellent).

And in Electro-Store Plus we purchased a new DVD player – the LG model DV492H – with a THREE-year warranty. Sharon assured me that it met all of my specifications including multiple region compatibility. Yisrael was thrilled and smiling when we left the mall.

We had a pleasant 45 minute drive home along the scenic roads and I set up the DVD player as soon as we got home. Then I left to pick Michael up. On the way home we stopped at Mega to get groceries because I won’t have the car tomorrow as it should be going in for repair. I called home while waiting on the checkout line and Yisrael was upset that it was taking us so long to get home. It turns out that he decided to wait for Michael to get home from work to use the new DVD player so they could enjoy the new toy for the first time together. I thought it was strange, but I guess it’s a male bonding thing that women just don’t get. I toyed with the vision of which one might get the remote first 😀

While I was putting the groceries away, Yisrael was setting up a movie for them to watch and called me to the TV in an upset tone. The screen read “Check Regional Code”, it wouldn’t play National Treasure.

Before he worked himself into a full panic I suggested we look at the user manual. On page 3 the instructions indicate that a regional code is printed on the back of the unit and the unit can only play DVDs labeled with the same code. My heart sunk as I checked and found Region Code 2 only.

FYI
Region Code 1: North American NTSC format
Region Code 2: European PAL format

About two-thirds of our videos are NTSC format.

I told him to watch an Israeli video while I considered what to do next – I didn’t need whining on top of my anxiety over the thought of driving round trip to Modi’in tonight. The first time I dialed Electro-Store’s phone number from the purchase receipt I got a fax machine. I checked again and there was no fax number on the receipt so I redialed and fortunately the manager answered. He remembered me because of my detailed questions and listened politely while I explained in a sharp tone that I had no intention of driving all the way there to return this unit and wanted to know the address of their Airport City store (which I expected would be closer to Ra’anana).

He calmly asked me to check the warranty package he had given me and told me to look for a separate sheet with instructions for changing the country code. And there it was, right between the register receipt and the warranty card – instructions on how to hack the system! He explained in a matter-of-fact tone that the majority of DVD players sold in Israel arrive in European format and need to be hacked for multiple country use. I followed the instructions while he waited on the phone and in a matter of seconds National Treasure was playing on the screen.

So, if you buy an LG DVD player, here is the hack are the instructions:

  1. Open the DVD tray (the cup holder for the computer geniuses out there)
  2. Press the 0 key on the remote 4 times (make sure you’re aiming at the infrared window on the front of the unit)
  3. Follow the on-screen prompt to select regional code 0.
  4. Press the Pause key (on the remote)
  5. Close the DVD tray.
  6. Power off
  7. Power on and play any DVD you’d like

Michael and Yisrael are watching Shooter right now – much more violent than National Treasure but I guess they needed to watch it to help release the anxiety of this week.

Hopefully the Dragon will be replaced tomorrow and life will return to normal.

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