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Meditation 290
Return to Sender

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I bought myself a 400 disc[1] DVD player. I was disappointed to find that it did an inadequate job of playing DVDs, the display pixelating every few minutes. And this happened on every disc I tried to play.

I went to the support section of the manufacturer[2] from whom I'd bought the machine online. I explained the problem in detail in the hope they would come back with some simple adjustments I could attempt before sending the unit in for repair. The reply came back fairly quickly:

"We apologize for the difficulties you are experiencing. Company X makes the DVD players using strict specifications. Since the unit is digital, if there is any variation between the information manufactured on the DVD disc and the operation of the unit, the unit will not fully read that disc.

Even though this disc may operate on other units, those units may not be able to play other disc titles depending on the way the discs were manufactured."

Interestingly, among the DVDs I had tried to play on this new machine were several from a major studio which was owned by the manufacturer of the player. What they were effectively telling me was that their machine was made to too strict a specification to play many of the discs on the market, including those of their own manufacture. The fault could not possibly be in the machine, but must be in the discs, which based on my sample included all the DVDs in my collection.

It seemed to me that this technical "support" person did not understand the concept of a 400 disc DVD player - that the user might have a large collection and have the expectation that at least 99% would be playable.

Based on the response I got, which implied the unit was not designed to be capable of the intended and advertised purpose, I did the only logical thing.

Return to sender. Got my money back.

Clearly the unit was faulty, and it was not really the intention of the manufacturer to market a player that adhered so closely to DVD specifications that it could not play the majority of discs. It was my misfortune to get a both faulty unit and a faulty support technician.

But, in theory, I suppose it could be done. A perfect DVD player could possibly be made that followed the DVD specification with no margin of error. And that perfectly manufactured player would then find errors in every disc, even those manufactured to specification by the same company, whether those faults were due to minor manufacturing errors, dust, or microscopic scratches from handling.

But given it would not play a single disc, it would be useless as a player. Anyone who purchased it to play DVDs would act as I did; return to sender.

Now for the lesson - this site is not really about DVD players.

Many people believe there is a perfect deity, who created all of us, and this perfect deity also finds fault in each and every one of us.[3] Apparently, none of us are up to that god's standards.

What should we do with that deity?

Return to sender.


  1. Some people may be unable to imagine why anyone would want a 400 disc DVD player. Consider, however, the ability to watch all 144 episodes (39 discs) of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer without stirring from the couch to change discs.
  2. As it is not my intention to slag the particular company, it will go unnamed. However, I suspect it will be obvious from certain details.
  3. OK - apparently there will be about a quarter million who will pass the deity's standards. But given that approximately a hundred billion people have lived on Earth to date, then about 99.9997% get failing grades. I think "each and every one of us" is a reasonable approximation.