Friday, March 06, 2009

Did you get your television converter box yet? I suppose admitting that you had to shell out $60 or so is some sort of admission that you re a Luddite holding onto antiquated technology.

Don't worry. I'm not judgmental.

I mean, come on: rabbit ears in the digital age? Do you remember constantly adjusting those things when you were a kid based on the station? How holding the antenna always made the picture better so you would try to con your little brother into doing that while you watched your favorite show? How about the creative use of aluminum foil wrapped between the ears to improve the antenna?

Did your dad ever get up on the roof to adjust the big attenna and you or your mom had to watch the set to shout instructions out of the window?

And don't get me started about having no remote control in those days and actually having to get up and turn a dial to switch channels " the horror, the horror!

Remember TV Guide and other listings of shows? In the pre-cable era, you actually planned what you watched by looking at the listings. You then got off your ass and changed the channel at the right time. There was no "clicker" and no scanning endlessly searching for something to watch.

Well, everything has changed with cable, satellite and TIVO devices.

I made the switch to satellite a number of years ago and have had no issues with it other than I neglected to get a new dish installed so I could get the local channels.

I was watching movies on Oscar Sunday and realized I would have to pry myself out of my La-Z-Boy to go to a Radio Shack and buy a converter box so we could watch the Oscars later that night.

I knew I was going to have to buy one box for a little television in the bedroom that isn t attached to the satellite system, so I didn t feel too guilty about my procrastination.

I made the purchase, hitched the thing up and entered the brave new age of free broadcasting.

It was fascinating to see this new technology completely messed up by the wind. The Oscar show's picture broke up and lost sound constantly because there was a steady wind outside. I should note we never have problems with the satellite signal unless there's damn near a hurricane going on.

Some local stations had an image that filled our set, while others had a window-boxed image and still others had a letter-boxed one. Naturally for the best image I needed to buy a new television set. I realized later I could play with the picture by pressing the "zoom" button on the remote control.

Overall I wasn t impressed and wondered if I needed to wrap some aluminum foil around my rabbit ears. I bet someone will be selling a new and improved digital antenna. Probably Billy Mays will be the pitchman.

© 2009 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

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