Friday night, I took my wife out to get some coffee to get her a few minutes away from the house. There’s a corner in the front of the store next to the window that we always sit in, and it seems like some huckster is always huckstering something there.
And did we ever find a doozie on this Friday night.
OK, so Target is back in the news, and it’s nowhere nearly as bad this time but there’s some posturing and some fluff in the news, so I’ll take it upon myself to demystify some of it. Some of it’s PR fluff, and some of it’s highly technical, so I’ll cut through it.
I’ve seen plenty of news stories of how the government shutdown is affecting 800,000 or so government employees. What the news stories fail to mention is a large number of contractors are out of work too, until this passes. I can only guess on that number, but there’s no doubt it numbers in the millions, and little doubt it’s in the tens of millions.
As a former government contractor myself, I dealt with losing my job unexpectedly earlier this year, so some tips on dealing with an unexpected loss of a paycheck, even if it’s temporary, are fresh in my mind. There are five things you have to do.
I’m not here to gloat about anything. I’m here to try to help. Some of these things won’t be pleasant, but they’ll reduce pain in the long run if this lasts longer than a week. Keep in mind that everything I’m advocating is something I’ve done myself.
Here’s a good, timely Google search query: scraping by advice.
I looked, and I’ve never written anything that matched that query well. I know a lot of people are hurting right now. I’ve been in some tight spots and I’ve gotten out of some, so let’s talk about what I would do, on a really practical level, if I ran into another tight spot next week.
I threw together a Gray-Hoverman antenna tonight. It’s literally two pieces of bent copper wire taped to a piece of plywood, connected with a 75 to 300 ohm transformer like this one, stashed behind the entertainment center. I’ll pretty it up at some point.
I now get 15 channels of over-the-air TV. With my old antenna, I only got 10.
With some tinkering, Antennapoint suggests I should be able to get channels from as many as 9 nearby cities, including, potentially, Springfield IL, and Jefferson City, MO.
I’m definitely hoping to pull in a couple of additional distant PBS stations, since they tend to vary their programming a little bit more. It would be nice to get an additional PBS Kids station, since the local PBS Kids stopped carrying a couple of shows my oldest son liked.
A basic cable TV package only gives you 20 channels, and most of them are stuff you wouldn’t want to watch anyway. And they usually don’t include the extra DTV channels. For instance, the local PBS channel also broadcasts a channel that alternates between home improvement and cooking, a kids channel, and a news channel. All are better than their cable equivalents, and they’re free. A couple of the other stations broadcast syndicated programming on a secondary channel.
I eventually want to build a better one and possibly mount it in the attic or even outdoors. But it’s amazing what 30 minutes with a piece of scrap lumber and $2 worth of wire yielded.
David L. Farquhar, computer security professional, train hobbyist, and landlord