Tuesday, December 23, 2008

switched to digital television

I delayed as long as possible getting a converter box for my 10-year-old television set. But a few months ago, I finally applied for the coupon.

Getting the coupon itself was an adventure. When I applied, I was refused; they claimed I had gotten a coupon already. Not so! I had moved into my current apartment in May. I figured the previous resident must have applied for the coupons, and a simple appeal explaining the situation would do the trick. My appeal was refused without explanation.

So I asked one of my friends to apply for me and finally I got a coupon. I wandered over to RadioShack and picked up a $60 converter box. With the coupon, it came to $20, and I'm still ticked off that I had to pay anything at all for the continued privilege of getting broadcast television.

I found that when using a coupon, they record your contact information, and felt vaguely criminal since my info won't match that on the coupon... it should be interesting if the FBI comes knocking at my door.

The converter box has been lying around my apartment for the last two weeks, since I've been too busy to try it out. But a few days ago, I noticed that my tv had stopped picking up the local FOX station. I thought it must be a temporary glitch, and anyway they were doing reruns, so I just waited a few days. Then I noticed that this evening there was a new episode of House scheduled at 8 pm. So I tried picking up FOX again, and the signal was still out. After a quick search, I found that FOX has switched to digital early (reportedly by accident).

I didn't want to miss House, so at 7:45 pm, I fiddled around with some wires and got my converter box set up. Voila... but no FOX. I got a couple of new channels, which look like nothing very interesting, but FOX was missing. So I tilted my rabbit ear antenna in the direction usually required to get FOX, and tried the "EZ Add" feature on the converter box. And it worked! House is coming in clear as a bell, and I'm recording it on my video recorder as I type this. However, I've noticed that my video recorder has to be tuned to channel 3 to pick up the box's signal, which means I can't use the recorder's timer. If I can't find a solution to that, I'm screwed and I'll have to go buy a new VHS recorder. This is one new technology I could have done without.

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