Basically, the digital transition nationally is a mess. Converter boxes are available and fairly standard, but unless you have the right antenna, many of the viewers in our area (and I answer all their questions and e-mail) are having trouble with signal break-up, and we hear that is nationwide.
With digital, you don't get "snow" -- you get picture or no picture (possibly with some extremely annoying pixilation as the signal dies.)
Anything can get in the way of the signal and make a difference -- wind, birds, tall buildings, interference from cell phone signals. We find that people who could watch our analog channel can't receive our digital channel, and until we have a power increase from the FCC, they'll be in trouble, though a taller antenna might help.
Antenna. That's the word and the thing that can make the most difference. If you watch over the air and get a converter box, try your original antenna first... even if it's rabbit ears. If it doesn't work, check antennaweb.org (link on my media links at the right) and see what they recommend for your location.
Remember, time is of the essence. It takes about a month for converter box discount coupons to arrive (valued at $40 off; you may get two). If your antenna isn't adequate, you'll need to make arrangements to upgrade and as we get into winter, those living in the north will find it may be pricier for installation.
How can you help others?
Make sure your friends and neighbors are not only aware of this, but have taken action, either by getting a converter box, digital TV or subscribed to a pay service.
Help people hook up their converter boxes to their sets. I talk to a lot of senior groups -- this is particularly challenging for those with arthritic hands, unable to turn their television set around to the back for the hook up, or visually challenged and not able to see which spot to insert the cables. It's not hard to do at all, but if you can't see or wiggle fingers or move furniture, it's pretty tough.
If you don't need a coupon, you can order a coupon for others. Some people without services may have multiple televisions and need more than two coupons. (You might even need one for the basement or kitchen set.)
Remind your friends that coupons have a 90-day expiration date. Take it from me, who didn't use her second coupon in time -- they don't make exceptions!
Check out my Media links at the left. WKAR's digital guy pages include some frequently asked questions, you can order your coupon, check out antennas and Crutchfield Advisor has some very good articles.
If you have any questions, e-mail me or include your e-mail address in your comment. I'll try to help troubleshoot with you. (I may be sorry I suggested that, but go ahead!)And now I don't feel so guilty for blogging at work!