LowComDom Performances Presents
The Crapolla According to Fek'Lar
You Know You're a Real Geek When...
Guys at Fry's bow to you as you enter.
You've stumbled onto another issue of The Crapolla, a journal written for software professionals. No not the managers; I mean the people who do the work.
This Crapolla is sponsored by...
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In This Issue...
Avoiding the Great Television Riots of 2009.
It's less than a year now until The Great Television Riots of 2009 begin. As with most panics the government causes, it appears this one is much ado about nothing. Sit back and have a cool, refreshing, Diet Coke while I spin you up on how you will covert to digital TV if you haven't already.
17% of us are in the boat I'm in. I get my over-the-air channels, over-the-air using an aerial on the roof of Casa de Fek. The antenna came with the house and is a long-distance VHF/UHF model. It looks like it's taken a beating over the years, but works beautifully. The first question is, do I need a different antenna? Let's remember, this is just radio with pictures.
All radio works on the same principles of a transmitter sending out radiation at a specific frequency, and a receiver which is tuned to that frequency to receive the signal and not all the noise that surrounds it. The transmitter needs an antenna that is the correct size for the wave-length of the transmitter's frequency, and the receiver will do better if its antenna is also the same physical size. In general, receivers have complex antennas that are many antennas working in tandem allowing the receiver to tune in many different frequencies. The last aspect of the signal is polarity. Is the radiation oriented vertically, or horizontally? But otherwise, the physics of radio is pretty much that simple. They don't tell you any of this at the electronics shop.
Back in the stone ages, when I was a kid and you would not yet born, there was the switch from monochrone (black & white) to color television. People who sold antennas made sure to sell you a "color antenna". The truth of the matter was that the antenna knew nothing about color, but, in general, a television needed a better signal to present a clean color picture compared to a monochrome signal. Otherwise, the frequency and polarity of signal was no different. That's because getting color into a televison signal was a trick. You took the same monochrone signal and piggy-backed the color information on a side-carrier frequency. Your antenna wasn't the wiser.
So that's the background on radio you need to deal with this whole antenna issue. Now let's look at how digital TV is going to work. The big benefit from the government's point of view is not a better picture or even a higher resolution. You can cram more signals in less spectrum if they are digitally encoded. That means the FCC can move all the television stations into a smaller space, and the sell off the recovered spectrum. That's the whole point. Ipso facto we know that frequencies of the stations are going to change, but to where?
They can't go far. The spectrum is very crowded these days. What is currently used is Low-Band VHF (Channels 1 - 6 where channel 1 was retired because it sucked), then you have the FM-Band, and next High-Band VHF (Channels 7 - 13). Then make a big leap to the UHF-Band where channels 14 - 82 live. Up here in the UHF band is where digital will be, but it will only need a fraction of what is currently in use. Television in the VHF-Bands will be retired all together.
Since reception is going to be based on frequency and polarity (and polarity isn't going to change in this case), it appears you only need a really good UHF antenna to get a digital signal. Does that mean I can just leave the old dipole monster on the roof? Yes!
To validate this, I used the digital TV to analog TV converter the government was giving out coupons for. You signed up for the coupons in January, and the hardware became available in March. I just plugged it into a TV, and poked the antenna into it, and voila! I have digital TV on the analog set.
My antenna is falling apart in the lower VHF band (the end with the bigger poles), but the UHF part is solid. You don't need an "HDTV antenna". There is no such thing. Remember, it's about frequency and polarity. The frequencies are changing to part of the spectrum you already have an antenna for, and polarity is not changing.
That's aerials, but what about cable? Well that's a mixed bag. If you get everything through cable, or even a dish, you don't have to do anything to keep getting TV, but you might not have a high def package. To get high def, you have to have a digital package. You can't dump high def info on an analog signal. The required bandwidth (and I'm using the word correctly here) would be too wide to fit in an analog signal. So if you're on analog cable, you aren't getting high def. However, your flat pannel TV will probably display analog TV way better than the old distorted CRT.
If you are using a dish, you may need a new antenna and receiver. In the early days of high def, the satellite companies put the high def stuff on another bird and went to an oblong dish to be able to focus the receiving horn on both satellites. I haven't called Dish to ask about what they're offering, but I'm guessing I can get hardware upgrades for close to nothing. As I mentioned in a previous Crapolla, this is their year to lose the business, so they're being real nice. Otherwise, if you have a digital signal coming in, you need to simply buy the high def programming.
That's the final part of the confusion many people have about this switch. We're not switching to high def, we're switching to digital encoding. High def is a different dimension of the signal, resolution, and it has nothing to do with frequency or polarity. It has far more to do with money than anything else.
SWAT Team Surrounds Donut Shop!
Man With Jelly-Filled, Holds Vice Squad Hostage!
Heard in the halls of various software companies.
"It's good to be young and stupid."
"This company fucks up enough that it should buy Astroglide in 50 gallon drums."
"Rioting is a required high school class in France."
"Freedom and equality is only a facade! Read the fine print!"
"How much of my brain do I have to lose to become a Product Manager?"
Someone said they've discovered the escape velocity of the Peter Principle. I must see!
They pay me to think. These are my thoughts. Do you think they are getting their money's worth?
Remember: The Crapolla contains my personal opinions. That's right they're mine, so get your own! And you kids get off my lawn!
Although written with the software professional in mind, my mind tends to wander all over the place, and I sometimes write about politics, mass stoopidity, dumb things I saw, and whatever else comes to mind.
From time to time, I use salty language, thus The Crapolla is not intended for children, or certain people in the Bush Administration.
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