I’m not sure who invented this term, SAF, but it comes up often around folks who are into new technology for the home… “sure you might want to install a media center pc, but have you taken into account the spouse acceptance factor?” or the more common, “having to restart the cable modem sure reduces the SAF”. With everything new seems to come a few annoyances, so the question is whether or not the benefits outweigh the issues… and not in your opinion, but in the opinion of the rest of the people in your house. This is an ongoing issue for me, because I have a habit of picking up new gadgets for the home.

**Update:** So, it seems that _SAF_ is just the politically correct form of _WAF_, which has been around for quite some time... at least the 70's according to this site: [http://www.wordspy.com/words/wifeacceptancefactor.asp](http://www.wordspy.com/words/wifeacceptancefactor.asp)

First, I went out and picked up Tivo, back when we first moved down to the US (Tivo is not available in most of Canada)… which was accepted into the household with very few bumps. It took a little while to get used to it, my wife was asking me to schedule recordings for awhile, and it had some problems changing channels on the digital cable boxes (using IR blasters, which I am not a big fan of). Eventually we got to a point where I don’t think we would ever want to go back to life without a Tivo-like solution.

Next, I brought in my own home-grown media center like box to play all our music. Generally well accepted, but with remote control issues (a tendency to take one button press to mean 3 or 4, therefore playing music you were just trying to browse through, scrolling way farther than intended, etc..). I was never really able to fix the remote issues, but I never spent any time trying (too much work to do for my real job to be debugging my hobby project for more than a few minutes), and the system became something that only I would use.

Eventually I replaced that music pc with a ‘real’ Media Center system running the first version of Windows Media Center, and tried to get people to use it instead of Tivo as well as for music/photos… well, it worked most of the time, but we had it stowed away in a cabinet and it would occasionally (way too often for our tastes) require the user to hit a keyboard or mouse button to get past some message box or dialog… which resulted in my wife just shutting it off and using the Tivo again. Along came the most recent version of Media Center (2005) and the SAF was greatly increased… no more dialogs require the keyboard ever appeared and it seemed easier to use for many reasons. Combined with a media center extender, which brings the whole system closer to the feel of a consumer appliance, and everything seems hunky dory… kinda…

For some reason, every once in awhile I get an error while watching a show… “Content Expired” and the screen is replaced with a big message about needed to re-acquire the content (this isn’t some HBO content protection thing … this happens on normal ABC/NBC type shows recorded the night before). Pressing stop, then play, fixes the problem, but every single time it happens I get to hear “Tivo never did this, you know” (partially just to bug me, I’m sure) … and it happens a few times a week. Oh… and sometimes the media center extender just suddenly dies and says that it experienced ‘a problem’ … and needs to be reset. There are a few other issues, making it seem unreliable… which means it is currently toeing the line between being loved and being thrown out… not sure what the resolution is going to be on that one.

The final piece of ‘new tech’ in my house is the Vonage voip phone system which works very well, except when the Internet is down. This isn’t Vonage’s problem but it is a dependency and for some reason my Comcast internet seems to die for at least a few hours every week… generally right when I’m at work and my wife finally has some time to call all the various doctors and friends to set up appointments, playdates, etc… sure, it comes back in a few hours, but by then my wife has tried the phone ten times, reset and power-cycled the cable modem, etc… and whenever that happens I get the request “can we please go back to regular phone service and Tivo? I don’t need fancy features, but I need this stuff to work…. and work all the time!”.

Yesterday the phone service stopped working for an hour, when my wife was trying to call the doctor about a problem that my son is having… and then today the media center extender stopped working (I think because I had VPN’d into microsoft the night before on the media center pc, and then disconnected… but I still think that is what ended up confusing the extender) … leading my wife to compare all the new technology in our home to “being left alone with a pet that behaves itself when you are home, but then gets violent after you leave”.

As a technology junkie, this is a difficult situation for me… so now I’m considering my options… should I go back to ‘regular’ phone service (cell phones don’t work at my house, by the way… they start to die around a block from my place)? Should I get digital cable and a DVR from the cable company perhaps? Should I consider DirectTV and their DVR? Should I take advantage of the switch to get some form of HD service… only if I can get a HD DVR solution, of course…

hassle, hassle, hassle… and there are always so many choices (DirectTV vs. Cable for example) and you are generally giving something up with every choice…

Of course, this is all unimportant in the big scheme of things, but I often find it is these unimportant details that end up taking a large amount of your time … whether you are talking about that little bug in your code that causes drag and drop to not work in 1% of the cases or the decision of what type of TV signal provider to go with…