Tag Archives: cable tv

How long do you think it takes to have a conversation you don’t wanna have?

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.

Continue reading How long do you think it takes to have a conversation you don’t wanna have?

How to test whether your TV has a digital HDTV tuner in it

If you’re thinking about canceling your cable TV subscription to save money, you might be worried about buying an antenna, only to find your TV isn’t capable of receiving over-the-air broadcasts.

If you live near a major metro area though, you can test it with a one-cent paper clip.

Continue reading How to test whether your TV has a digital HDTV tuner in it

Cutting through the fluff around the Target PIN breach

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’m just glad–I guess–to be talking about this stuff outside of a job interview. Like I said, this time the news isn’t nearly as bad as it could be. Continue reading Cutting through the fluff around the Target PIN breach

Hints for surviving if the shutdown put you out of work

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.

Continue reading Hints for surviving if the shutdown put you out of work

How to save money on tech

CNN offered up some good tips on saving money on tech. But of course I want to analyze and comment on it myself. Anything else would be out of character.

Continue reading How to save money on tech

Speeding up an Acer Aspire One 722

I gave my out-of-box impression of the Acer Aspire One 722 last week. It’s completely unacceptable out of the box, and adequate when you do some basic cleanup on it.

Now I’ve installed an Intel SSD in one and clean-installed Windows, and I’m much more impressed with it. Continue reading Speeding up an Acer Aspire One 722

Advice on scraping by

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.

Continue reading Advice on scraping by

The Gray-Hoverman antenna

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.

This $6 transformer is the most expensive part you need to build a quality antenna

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.