Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Do You Do Digital?

No, not digital photography. I mean, are you ready for the digital television conversion?

OK, I work at a TV station and I’m supposed to be all excited about this. Great pictures! Unparalleled images! Multicasting! More stations without cable for free!

At the risk of having anyone I work with read this, let me give you my own assessment of the digital transition.

It stinks.

Stinks would not be my preferred word. You don’t want to know my preferred word.

For several months I have been answering questions addressed to the station’s “Digital Guy” (who is an actor, although when I’m answering the questions, I’m using my acting skills too, because I haven’t got a whole lot of clues about what I’m writing. It’s like my seven years as a bookkeeper when I didn’t even balance my checkbook. You don’t want to know…)

In other words, I’m not the Digital Guy, but I play him online.

Anyway, this weekend, I got my converter box for home. Actually, this is a picture of the box from online. My box is white. I don't like it. I wish I bought a brown one, but you couldn't tell from the outside of the box, and I went to four stores to find one.

You will need a converter box for any television set not hooked up to cable. I had just hauled up an old 13-inch telly from the basement for the art space. My coupon arrived (more on this later) and I was excited about hooking it up.

So, hook I did. Antenna into converter box. Box into telly. Two remotes (like I don’t have enough to lose).

Let me say that this is an OLD telly and most of the time it doesn’t work. When (and the operative term here is “when”) I get a picture – it’s fabulous. Score one for digital.

And WHEN the stations work, I get all four WKAR channels (we multicast) as well as two other stations. Better than before.

Having said that, the stations come in and out based on the whimsy of not only where you are located and where your antenna is directed (which isn’t as easy at it seems) but also whether leaves are blowing, the Gypsy is walking by the rabbit ears, or it’s Sunday. (Or Monday, or…)

Maybe if the antenna was on the roof (I don’t get on the ladder, much less the roof) or it was somewhere else, it would be better.

Oh, yes, and signal strength isn’t as strong as analog, so even if you can watch a station now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can watch with the same clarity or at all when you go digital.

AND, when you lose a signal, you don’t get snow so you can follow along. It either stops, pixilates or goes blank. So, if you’re like me and you just sort of want to follow while doing something else, you may not be able to.

Here are the basics you need to know if you are into television, even remotely (no pun intended).
To watch TV after February 17, 2009, you will need to do one of the following options: Order satellite, order cable or have a converter box. You need a box for anything not hooked up to one of the above. You can order a coupon for $40 off at this site, and they take about a month to arrive and must be used in 90 days.

Second, you need an antenna.

Sometimes rabbit ears will work (I’m told). You can find out more about antennas here.

Third, you will need to adjust the antenna everytime you want to watch something different. Which may be OK.

Hooking up is easy – antenna to box (plugged in) and box to TV.

You will also want a hammer. This is for beating the television into small parts you can throw out easily or divvy up for recycling – if you can find anyone who recycles televisions and doesn’t charge you an arm and a leg for the privilege.

Or, you can go back to cable.

'Nuf said. Now, I’d best go back to answering digital guy questions and telling people why they aren’t getting us.


Anonymous said...

i never knew you were channelling the Digital Guy :) that fact alone distracted me from most of the rest of your post...except the part where you refer to the risk of having your co-workers read your blog... there is a certain very well known blogging personality out there who tells a long and terrible tale of perceived treachery and duplicity from writings she did on her blog with the result that she lost her job. but don't worry her story has a a happy ending. and you didn't say anything bad per se at all. you were giving us useful instruction about modern technology... yes? the hammer is especially useful i'm told. fortunately i don't have a telly so won't have to resort to violence or get a cat in order to watch American idol. nuf said :)

i love your humor :)

p.s. gee and to think i was looking for someone to be my bookkeeper and had you on my list of people to ask... phew! managed to avoid that disaster!

p.s.s. of course gypsy is the exception along with a few other cats that i like. he has soooo much personality and we both like hats. be sure to tell him that if i ever were to consider having a cat again a cat just like him would be nice to have.

beth said...

gosh...I feel like we have been digital for so long now, it's crazy !

and we are such TV junkies it's pathetic....we have 5 upstairs...office, studio, kitchen, bathroom and family room and 2 downstairs...kids family room and workout room.

and how many people live in this house....hmmm, 3 of us !!!

see, PATHETIC !!!!

Jane said...

Did you forget to mention over coffee the other day that YOU were the digital guy. Your talents are endless.

OMG I nearly fell out of my chair when I read about the other essential and crucial tool, "the hammer".

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