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Remote Control Discontent

This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.
I have six remote control's sitting on my coffee table. Six. DVD, TiVo, the "old" VHS recorder, cable, "the set" and another one I'm not sure what it goes to.

Deciphering which does what and how can be baffling. For those who never knew and those who can't remember, the "remote" was initially a space age tool of comfort.

The biggest problem was simply keeping track of it...

"Hey, has anyone seen the remote?" became part of our language.

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Somehow, despite having never been fitted with legs, the old remote would move, generally under a cushion and generally out of sight, turning a liberating tool into a living room search and rescue mission.

Now with six remotes -- forget about it.

One alternative is to keep a teenager near the TV at all times. Through thousands of hours hooked up to various electronic appliances each has developed a canny intuitive ability to simultaneously manipulate any number of remotes. If your teenager goes to school however, that can be a problem.

"No sweat," someone told me. "Just go out and buy a universal remote that combines them all," requiring of course, someone to program these labor saving devices into one. I did just that. It took the guys about three days. No joke. Hooked up to laptops and cell phones and with a look of unendurable agony, they finally got it done with only two return trips to tweek it just right.

And now that there's just one remote, we're back to square one. Has anybody seen the clicker?

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith

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