09 March 2009

technophobe

I turned on the radio this morning (my radio doesn't even know there are stations besides NPR, so I'll give you three guesses as to what I was listening to), and Steve Inskeep was reporting on some rural areas that are struggling with the upcoming conversion to digital television (don't get me started on why it's suddenly the federal government's responsibility to make sure all Americans aren't without network television -- no couch potato left behind?). I chuckled as I considered my own situation, even in highly urbanized Seattle....

As soon as he received the coupon for the digital converter box, Eric rushed right out to get us all set up, so we've been dealing with the digital signal since early last fall, and suffice it to say: I hate it. Eric argues that the picture is clearer, which is true, but what difference does that make, if the audio sig....ets..ll...sp...ty..d..gra....... and then the image freezes or gets all pixely (sometimes with disturbing effects), and often enough, drops off all together ("no signal!" a little blue box cheerfully tells us). And it gets worse in inclement weather, when I would normally tune into the local news for the .....weather report. I dislike the whole situation so much that I have stopped watching television altogether*. The big black box in the living room has become my own personal movie theater.... or rather it was, until the DVD player inexplicably died last week.

I'm actually quite glad about the whole thing: I've been trying (not very hard, I admit) to kick the TV habit for years, and now, through it's own (misguided, ill-conceived, much-touted) effort to improve itself, I have finally been converted. So I'll thank the federal government after all, and declare.... long live radio!

*weather reports now consist of me looking out of all of the windows of my house, taking an average and making an educated guess as to what's coming next. take that, megadoppler2000!

5 comments:

bv said...

What is this about a federal, what, law? to make everyone get digital cable? That sounds so bizarre!

Holly said...

Good for you! I wish I could do that, but I have to see Lost and True Blood through to the end. Well, I have to see Lost through to the end. After that, I would happily throw the TV out the window.

Try the TED talks at http://www.ted.com/ if you want more worthwhile things to listen to while crafting.

froghair said...

bv -- just digital network television (local stations), not cable. and yes, it is bizarre. My understanding of it is that the US Fed gov't decided that digital TV is the best way to disseminate emergency information, and therefore it was going to fund a nationwide conversion from analog (rabbit ears antenna) to digital signals. Citizens can send away for a voucher for a digital converter box, if your TV doesn't already have such a device built in, which many of the newer units do. Now, how are we going to get our precious emergency information in the event of a power outage? That's right, a radio with batteries. I have no idea why the feds didn't just issue everyone a NOAA radio, which broadcasts emergency info & weather only. No conversion, no confusion, everyone already knows what radios are.

Not only that, but the conversion date was supposed to be Feb 17th, but so many Americans were either unaware, uninformed, or worse, thought they had to buy whole new television sets (the e-waste....uuugh), the feds had to push back the conversion date to sometime this summer. If you really want to know more about your crazy neighbors to the south, try www.dtv.gov.

Can I please be a Canadian now?

Holly -- thanks for the tip, I'll check TED out!

DinoMatt said...

I am surprised how little I miss TV...outside of football, of course...
It's my understanding converting to digital frees up channels, for reasons that escape me.
Regarding weather: have you ever considered becoming a weather spotter? Or part of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network? The National Weather Service does the training, and it's quite painless. And, let's say graupel begins to fall, you can call and report it. We had that last night - and wind gusts up to 60mph! - and they were quite happy to get my report. "We've got sun, earth, and atmosphere, and when you've got that, you've got weather!"

froghair said...

DinoMatt -- you're right, they also say that digital signals reduce the bandwidth required for broadcast, so they can broadcast more stations. So now it's the federal government's responsibility to make sure that all Americans get MORE television? Whatever their reasons, so far as I can tell it's been a failure, and I am happier for it.