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Television Media United States Technology

US Switch To DTV Countdown Begins 293

Posted by timothy
from the we're-from-the-gov't-and-we're-here-to-help-you dept.
s31523 writes "In February lawmakers postponed the switch from analog to digital TV. Now, the new June 12th deadline is upon us with no sign of another delay. CNET is reporting that the President himself has stated, '... I want to be clear: there will not be another delay.' So it looks like it is going to happen, for real this time. Even with the delay, there are still estimated to be millions of unprepared viewers. Local stations may participate in the voluntary 'Analog nightlight' services in which TV stations agree to keep an analog signal turned on in addition to their digital signals to provide information about the DTV transition and to notify unprepared TV viewers of emergencies, such as hurricanes."
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US Switch To DTV Countdown Begins

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:12PM (#28299335)

    I'm not afraid of the switch tomorrow. I've already spent the last few months getting repeated phone calls from my grandma complaining about the funny new box we put on her TV so she can still get her damn Judge Judy.

    The last one was the best. Grandma called up and informed me that her new remote was broken. So I called my cousin, who drives over to her house and finds that the "broken" remote is the result of grandma having put a fucking doily on top of the box (blocking its IR receiver). I shit you not.

    I love my HDTV. But it's a demanding love.

    • by qortra (591818) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:19PM (#28299459)
      It sounds like your Grandma is the demanding love.
    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:20PM (#28299475) Homepage
      There's tons of people who are going to be cut off because of this. Analog TV has much better range than Digital TV, and has much better tolerances with a bad signal. Think about when there's bad weather with your satellite dish. The picture is either there, or it's completely gone. With analog, you get varying degrees of static depending on how bad the signal is, but when there's bad weather, like hurricanes or blizzards, you can make out some of what's going on to get the news.
      • by DaGoatSpanka (839005) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:22PM (#28299527) Homepage

        During a hurricane or blizzard, turn on the radio if you can't get TV signal. A hurricane will more than likely kill power and my TV doesn't take batteries like my radio!

        • by Locke2005 (849178)
          Anybody that can hear is better served by a radio in an emergency. Emergency television broadcasts are only really useful to deaf people. And of course, none of those analog-to-digital converter boxes can be battery powered, so a battery-powered TV (yes, they do exist, generally in analog B&W) doesn't help.
      • by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:26PM (#28299579)

        During a weather emergency, the TV not the first place I go for relevant information. Noaa.gov, weather.com, and/or a local AM "News and weather station" are my collective first choice.

        However, I do know what you mean. If someone really is relying on the TV during really bad weather, analog would probably be more fault-tolerant.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Darkness404 (1287218)
          Well, thankfully my power rarely goes out and same with cable, but usually I rely on TV broadcasts during tornado season. The reason being that you get a much more clear picture of the storm and know if you really have to take cover or not. And even in generic areas "Southern X county" there can still be a huge difference between a town totally missing a tornado and one that is wiped off the maps. TV reporters are pretty good at telling you without alarming you where a tornado is likely to form unlike radio
        • by An dochasac (591582) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @08:11PM (#28302619)

          During a weather emergency, the TV not the first place I go

          Unless you're driving, analog TV is (was) the best place to go for weather emergency info because:

          • Weather radar can quickly and visually indicate where the storm is, how fast its moving and in what direction. Anyone with a vague idea of where they live can see whether the worst is behind or ahead.
          • Neither NOAA nor commercial AM/FM stations can possibly give neighborhood granularity coverage fast enough.
          • Bad weather makes for good ratings so during hurricanes, tropical storms, supercell storms, tornadoes, you're likely to get good coverage from several stations, radar in the corner of the screen, text crawling across the bottom giving locale updates much faster than a radio stations 20 minute/hourly update cycle.
          • Because TV is a big profitable industry, a typical transmitter is much more powerful and has better coverage than a typical NOAA 162.xx MHz transmitter.
          • TV coverage during any storm is almost always better than AM/FM coverage

          for relevant information. Noaa.gov, weather.com, and/or a local AM "News and weather station" are my collective first choice.

          Static on analog AM (455-1600kHz) can tell you a thunderstorm is 50-100 miles away. Beyond that I'd say analog AM and FM radio is all but useless. The news cycles are too long, there are too many clear channel and autoDJ and syndicated stations. (I've been there, camping at 4:00a.m., emergency sirens come on, I scan the radio dial for information and here 1940s music, Art Bell, Industrial music and static...)

          NOAA transmitters are typical of heavy government, by time a weather event is verified enough to get into the update cycle, it has probably passed you. NOAA transmitters are pathetically weak and placed in locations where their line of sight coverage is abysmal. Cross any great lake and you're likely to pick up TV stations the whole way across but you won't pick up any NOAA station more than 10 miles offshore. (In my case not even this far because the nearest station was about 15 miles inland!) Try this, get one of those TV/weather radios (before tomorrow morning!) scan through the T.V. channels and if you are within 25 miles of a big city, you'll probably get some TV stations and if you hear a NOAA station at all, it will be very weak.

          Now here is the rub, not only is digital TV an all or nothing affair which has a wider area of 'perfect picture', but a much smaller area of 'usable picture', but to date there are no portable battery operated televisions capable of receiving a DTV signal. Yes you could run your DTV converter off an inverter, and someone has even created one which runs on half a dozen D batteries, but DTV decoding is computationally intensive which means it burns through batteries much faster than your Analog LCD TV. Gaps in weather and other emergency coverage will eventually be seen as one of the unintended consequences of the government mandated forced obsolescence of analog TV. A second unintended consequence is that millions of TVs will end up in landfills before their time because their owner is either out of DTV range, or he isn't technically savvy enough to hook up a converter. The third unintended consequence is that themanufacturers of new televisions will have a very good year. DTV was sold in the pre-internet days on the premise that it would provide jobs for EEs after the downsizing of NASA and the military. It has provided jobs, but unfortunately very few of these jobs have been within the U.S. And now we're stuck with "the worlds first DTV system" which was designed when MS Windows didn't even have a TCP stack and the 'web' consisted of a few dozen organizations, email and usenet. My point here being that after all of the money spent on DTV, it is within 5 years of being irrelevant thanks to youtube and similar video services and more efficient codecs.

          • Due to the anti-ghosting features (or maybe multipath rejection) the current standard is unusable in a car/fast moving vehicle. There is an update to the standard to aleviate this oversight, but for now, all of those RV drivers /van drivers, and boaters who used broadcast TV will be SOL.

            I think to date there are no (or very very few) ATSC capable portable tv's... hopefully someone corrects me, but that spells bad news for folks in hurricane prone areas who could lose power for weeks at a time....

            JP
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by An dochasac (591582)
              There is one DIY [instructables.com] 'portable' (luggable) DTV. There are some commercial ones but they are much much more expensive than analog portable TVs and as I mentioned, the battery life is likely to be much shorter and as you mentioned, it may not work in a moving bus/van/boat...) It may be difficult to get people exited by this oversight until someone notices that they can no longer watch instant replays on their portable at the ballgame. Tailgate parties will also be TV free.

              This is why government should be as
          • by RandomJoe (814420) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @11:59PM (#28304231)

            NOAA transmitters are typical of heavy government, by time a weather event is verified enough to get into the update cycle, it has probably passed you. NOAA transmitters are pathetically weak and placed in locations where their line of sight coverage is abysmal. Cross any great lake and you're likely to pick up TV stations the whole way across but you won't pick up any NOAA station more than 10 miles offshore. (In my case not even this far because the nearest station was about 15 miles inland!) Try this, get one of those TV/weather radios (before tomorrow morning!) scan through the T.V. channels and if you are within 25 miles of a big city, you'll probably get some TV stations and if you hear a NOAA station at all, it will be very weak.

            Damn. Obviously, different areas of the country are very different! Here in Oklahoma, the NOAA transmitters are in VERY good locations. From my house, I can pick up two or three indoors, on one of my ham radio antennas I can pick up seven or eight from across the state and even into Texas. Just the other day I was in my car listening to the one that is located in the OKC metro area while I was over 100 miles away.

            And the updates seem to happen very quickly here. Indeed, I'll hear the NWS discussing something with the spotters over the radio, then within just a few minutes the weather radio goes off with the new updates. If I had any complaints, I wish they would make more fine-grain use of the SAME codes, our storms aren't usually large enough to affect an entire county at once, but even if their alert specifically says "northeast corner of Oklahoma county" I (on the far west side) still get the alert because they only break things down to county level with the codes.

            I do agree about using TV during weather events. The one thing I really liked about the switch to DTV was two of the local stations (NBC and ABC) set up a secondary channel that was nothing but weather. They've ruined it a bit already, with advertising and insets and such, but for a while one of them just had a live feed of their radar up with NOAA weather radio audio. I usually just tune to someone who has radar up and turn the audio down, living here all my life I can read the radar about as well as they can for stuff that matters to me, so don't need the chatter.

      • Exactly. Then there are some people who don't understand TVs and have never ending problems. For example, theres this elderly woman that constantly asks me for assistance with her DTV box, first are the terrible signals. Like you said, a bit of static is easy to deal with, but the constant glitching of many channels have made some channels completely unwatchable. Not to mention on some TVs particularly ones that are old enough not to have remotes, the elderly don't understand that even though they must use
        • Hell, I've got cable (TW in LosAngeles), and my wife thinks theres something wrong with the new LCD TV. I get stutters, posterization, and picture freezes.

          And that's on both std def (2-whatever) and HiDef channels, using an HDMI cable.

      • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:37PM (#28299769) Homepage

        The pixellation / loss of DTV video is inconvenient, but the loss / breakup of the audio is downright annoying.

        It's a shame there's a lack of redundency for the audio channel in the ATSC standard to reduce the "cliff effect" on the audio portion.

        NTSC for all its faults, and it has many, degrades gracefully and remains somewhat usable well out into fringe areas.

        On a related topic, the U.S. version of DTV results in a noticeable delay to change channels / reacquire signal.

        Ron

      • by westlake (615356) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @05:00PM (#28300153)

        Analog TV has much better range than Digital TV, and has much better tolerances with a bad signal.

        The short and simple solution to this problem is to do what your Grandad did in 1950 and his Grandad in 1925:

        You spring for a good external antenna - and you install it by-the-book.

      • by knarf (34928)

        Analog TV has much better range than Digital TV, and has much better tolerances with a bad signal.

        My experience is exactly the opposite. Before the switch to DVB-T [wikipedia.org] I did not have any reception. I live on a farm in rural Sweden, it is a bit hilly here, the nearest transmitter is about 50 km to the south - so distance should not be a problem. Nevertheless, analog television was a complete no-go. I thought that was quite OK as I prefer to be TV-free but my POSSLQ [wikipedia.org] wanted TV... so when the switch to digital came

      • by sribe (304414) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @05:30PM (#28300679)

        Well, I live in a kind of remote rugged location, and since the switch to DTV my picture is much better. Now my internet access gets flaky when it's windy--lower transmitting tower...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Eil (82413)

        Think about when there's bad weather with your satellite dish. The picture is either there, or it's completely gone. With analog, you get varying degrees of static depending on how bad the signal is, but when there's bad weather, like hurricanes or blizzards, you can make out some of what's going on to get the news.

        While I get what you're saying, and I don't think the analogy is completely useless, you have to keep in mind that satellite and terrestrial signals are completely different in terms of reception

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by beav007 (746004)

        There's tons of people who are going to be cut off because of this.

        This is in the USA - is it really that big a deal if 8 people get cut off?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hazydave (96747)

        Sure, digital is (well, appears to the user as if it were) all or nothing, for the most part.

        But rain fade on satellite is something different... rain simply attenuates RF at higher frequencies, particularly above 10GHz. Lots of things do... 2.4GHz is pretty hard hit by walls, and blocked by a relatively small band of forest. UHF frequencies are largely unaffected by rain. There are other issues in general: much larger fresnel zone radius (which is why rooftop antennas work better than ground-level, all els

    • so she can still get her damn Judge Judy.

      Does she read the Globe [wikipedia.org] or the National Inquirer [wikipedia.org] as well? You have to admit, its pretty funny how well some people fit the typical marketing profiles.

  • by Petersko (564140) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:14PM (#28299367)
    What... you thought "February" was too easy to pronounce correctly?
  • Analog nightlight? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crow (16139) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:16PM (#28299419) Homepage Journal

    I thought that with the transition, the old analog frequencies were being reclaimed. Some of the ATSC stations will change frequencies and broadcast digital where the analog used to be. So are they delaying the completion of the transition to allow for this nightlight service? When will we have our stations at their final frequencies?

    • by tonyreadsnews (1134939) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:24PM (#28299561)

      More than half the stations broadcasting the "analog nightlight" service will remain on air for 30 days. And the rest will be on for at least two weeks. In total, these stations will reach 69 percent of TV households.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nsayer (86181)

      I thought that with the transition, the old analog frequencies were being reclaimed.

      DTV is still going to be in the same channels from 2-51. Channels 52-69 were auctioned off. This whole transition was done to pack the broadcasters into a smaller space, among other things. The adjacent channel allocation rules for DTV are less cumbersome than they were for analog. Here in the Bay Area, Sutro Tower will transmit signals on 33, 34, 38, 39, 43, 44 and 45 (that's not the complete list, just the adjacent ones). That was impossible before.

      So are they delaying the completion of the transition to allow for this nightlight service?

      No. Only stations whose analog frequencies will remain un

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:17PM (#28299433) Journal

    "We have worked hand in hand with state and local officials, broadcasters and community groups to educate and assist millions of Americans with the transition...I want to be clear: there will not be another delay."

    Well, I hope my government is this vocal and helpful in getting everyone coordinated to switch to IPv6 and HTML5. Oh, ha, that's right. If we switch to those, the government doesn't get to auction off IPv4 or HTML4 for twenty billion dollars. So I guess you only get grade A support from the FCC and Department of Commerce only when they profit from it. That's really a shame, I think if the United States informed consumers on more standards and compliance it would benefit the average citizen. Hell, sometimes I wish the Senators & Congressmen themselves sought such information.

    • by qortra (591818)

      Well, I hope my government is this vocal and helpful in getting everyone coordinated to switch to IPv6 and HTML5.

      I will grant you that the government (and the FCC in particular) is greedy. However, do you really want the government to mandate [more] protocols on the internet? If the government started to control the internet more tightly, how long would it be before lobbyists convinced them to mandate DRM? Or before we get truly invasive agency monitoring (worse than now). Or before we start getting the crap taxed out of our packets (and yes, this is coming anyway eventually)? Don't invite the wolf in, even if he

    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:38PM (#28299785) Homepage
      No matter how much they try, the US can't mandate anything to do with the internet, because it doesn't own the internet. You can tell everybody in the US to switch to IPV6, but that isn't going to make everyone else in the world immediately comply. Same as a shutting down internet gambling. You can shut down the US based ones, but you can't shut down offshore ones.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Well, I hope my government is this vocal and helpful in getting everyone coordinated to switch to IPv6 and HTML5.

      Do you really want the government to have the authority to tell people what network protocols they can and can't use? You might think they would use such power to spur adoption of IPv6 and HTML5, but I suspect they would be more inclined to ban BitTorrent, TOR, and FreeNet than IPv4 and HTML4.

  • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:21PM (#28299495) Homepage

    I've changed over to digital torrent distribution, freeing up the airwaves completely.

  • It's about damn time. I have thrown away old HDTVs already!
    • Folks in rural areas with already-weak analog signals and no cable options will probably think differently, although there is probably always satellite TV in most locations. Still, the DTV conversion will completely remove an option for a certain number of people due to DTV broadcast range limitations.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TypoNAM (695420)

        What broadcast range limitations do you speak of? According to the FCC ATSC should surpass NTSC's coverage in distance: http://www.fcc.gov/dtv/markets/ [fcc.gov]
        Now there are issues with any stations broadcasting below channel 7 in the VHF band, but FCC is allowing those stations to kick up the output power quite a bit to compensate for that.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          These maps are very interesting but incredibly inaccurate. My experience with living in the "fringe" of the metro area of Minneapolis/St. Paul is that the analog dividing line is greatly underestimated (perfect reception can be achieved in a circle with a 20-mile greater radius than shown), while the digital line may be fairly accurate. Analog has proven its abilities in the past; digital, being the newcomer, will have big shoes to fill.

          I especially despise that my previous neighbors in the fringe a
  • seriously... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:29PM (#28299631)

    If someone hasn't figured out they need to pick up a DTV tuner, and gone out and obtained one by now, but they can sit there and watch the static. There has been AMPLE warning that this was coming, so even stupidity and laziness wont cut it for an excuse.

    • by EkriirkE (1075937)
      Srsly, this has been in the news for over 4 years. Why 4 months ago was it an "OMG there wasn't enough time" and now 4 months is all the difference? The original date should have been it.
    • Re:seriously... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tttonyyy (726776) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @06:46PM (#28301785) Homepage Journal

      If someone hasn't figured out they need to pick up a DTV tuner, and gone out and obtained one by now, but they can sit there and watch the static. There has been AMPLE warning that this was coming, so even stupidity and laziness wont cut it for an excuse.

      I work for a company the supplies a large proportion of the world with digital content distribution equipment (as a s/w engineer, it's a rather cool job - quite a lot of what people watch/hear has been touched (not necessarily in a good way ;) ) by my code).

      Your observation is easy to say from the viewpoint of someone technologically aware - but you have to recognise there are plenty of people that just "don't get it" because even a basic level of technology is more than they want to get to grips with. These people don't understand how cordless phones work, and have little interest in internet connectivity. The whole digital television thing is a blur. But, they are happy like that; the digital switch over is just an annoyance they don't understand.

      I don't think that makes them lazy or stupid - its just a different set of life values that people in our demographic don't understand.

      Maybe one day our kid's kid's will be complaining about how we haven't had our brains flash frozen for inclusion in the AI singularity grid. Don't we know organic matter will be obsolete in a couple of years? :)

      Thankfully until then the progress that I do understand pays the mortgage - and I hope the numerous beers don't dull my excitement over new technology - though as I get older, I feel that certain inevitability that it will. Maybe one day we'll be left watching the static too...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Lunzo (1065904)

        I work for a company the supplies a large proportion of the world with digital content distribution equipment (as a s/w engineer, it's a rather cool job - quite a lot of what people watch/hear has been touched (not necessarily in a good way ;) ) by my code).

        I hope you've been putting in subliminal messages as an Easter egg. e.g. splicing in frames of hard-core porn randomly every couple of hours.

  • Dear Editor: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:31PM (#28299663) Homepage Journal

    Digital backslide [illinoistimes.com]

    A friend who uses an indoor antenna bought a digital TV, and now only has four stations, two in analog, one of which is a Catholic religion station, and two in digital.

    I fear this will happen to cable subscribers too after the loss of Channel 8 [see "Channel 8 goes blank for some WSEC viewers," by Amanda Robert, IT, April 23]. I can see channels going digital one by one until there are no analog signals left.

    I was using an indoor antenna (before the digital switch). If I remember correctly, I had channels 12, 17, 19, 20, 28, 48 and 55. Now it seems that in the digital age, digital TV users have only two stations.

    Welcome back to 1955 St. Louis!

    • I was using an indoor antenna (before the digital switch). If I remember correctly, I had channels 12, 17, 19, 20, 28, 48 and 55. Now it seems that in the digital age, digital TV users have only two stations.

      Some will win, some will lose.
      Some are born to sing the blues.
      But the movie goes on and on.

      Change is almost never an improvement for everybody. But while things will get worse, or at least different enough to require an effort, for a minority, most will benefit.

    • The other thing is at least you can watch fuzzy analog TV. With Digital either you have it or you don't. Kind of like Direct TV or Dish in the rain. Woot less channels I can watch!!! Plus now that I am out in the country... no high speed internet. Glad we killed that "pork" project <cries>
    • Only lost one (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stabiesoft (733417)

      in austin, I have only lost one station in the transition, a spanish language channel that was very weak in analog. I get 6 digitals. (FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC, WB & PBS). The nice thing for me is one of the stations broadcasts weather on a 2nd channel, so I get a radar 24/7, which lets me see where it is raining. For me, its all a plus to switch to digital. Much cleaner signal and HD. the only negative has been slower channel surfing since signal acquisition is slower. This is all with indoor rabbit ears (li

    • Hey, mcgrew.

      Our channel 27 (WQEC, your WSEC on channel 8) keeps the best signal in town going. Unfortunately, Network Knowledge is in a fund-raising fury because this government-mandated switch comes along at the same time as huge cuts in government funding for PBS.

      We actually got only four channels here before the DTV signals came up -- KHQA 7 (CBS), WGEM 10 (NBC), some Protestant religious channel (which makes EWTN look like Spielberg directs everything), and a single PBS. Now we also have ABC (on 7.2), C

    • A friend who uses an indoor antenna bought a digital TV, and now only has four stations, two in analog, one of which is a Catholic religion station, and two in digital.

      Which is exactly why the switch is so important, because a lot of stations broadcast at much lower power than they will be able to after the switch.

      He'll get more channels after the 12th if they don't wimp out again.

    • by westlake (615356)

      A friend who uses an indoor antenna bought a digital TV, and now only has four stations

      Are the digital signals being broadcast at full power?

    • by hey! (33014)

      Welcome back to 1955 St. Louis!

      Lucky bastards. That means you'll be getting The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.
         

    • The funny thing is that all these commercials say as long as I have cable, I am ok. But is that really true if the rural cable operator is taking the analog OTA feed and sending it through the cable?

      Our local OTA analog stations are broadcasting a scroll stating that since I can see the scroll, I am not on digital and will be cut off during the transition. My HDTV on these channels in digital do not have the scroll. My cable does.

      I wonder how many cable operators are going to be displaying an empty anal

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Manchot (847225)
      I know for a fact that the digital version of every channel in St. Louis comes in nice and strong with plain old rabbit ears, because I installed my parents' tuner two years ago. However, my parents actually live in the city, and none of those channels are the aforementioned 12, 17, 19, 20, 28, 48, or 55. Also, Springfield, Illinois is a good 90 miles away from St. Louis, so I'm guessing that the letter-writer must use a repeater to get the St. Louis channels. IIRC, repeater stations aren't required to swit
  • REPENT! Repent ye geeky sinners! For the end of days is upon ye!

    Lo! As it is written, there shall befall a great and terrible calamity upon all the kin of the nerdy, and their most precious gadgets and devices shall be laid low by the machinations of the wicked! And they shall lament, and make agitated phone calls even in the early hours of the late morning!

    And there shall be a great moaning as the geeky rise to diagnose the woes of their parents and uncles and aunts and cousins and neighbors and co-workers and friends and even children! Naught will your warnings save you as the wretched shall pay no need. And ye shall be swamped with piteous wails and whinges as the masses of humanity beat down thy doors and fill up they inboxes with useless protestations and opinions and heed not thy councils.

    Thou shalt spend thy last days overseeing the procurement and installation of countless digital devices. Yea, in peoples very living rooms! And thou shalt be condemned to maintain and provide unpaid support for each and every one of these cheap and buggy imports till the end of thy unhappy life.

    Repent geeky sinners! Give up thy sinful social ways and cast off thy connections to society, like the mathematicians and programmers of old! Give up thy internet and telephone connections and families and social life! Give up and repent, lest ye be danmed! REPENT!

  • As the internet and the sat TV is altrady here.
    And personally don't mind about TV: books are better by far. And they can be both digital and analogue at the same time.
  • by theurge14 (820596) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:46PM (#28299919)

    The only way to get the masses to switch is to force it upon them. Hence the continuing popularity of Windows XP.

    • by Toonol (1057698)
      The continued dominance of Windows XP might be viewed as consumers REJECTING change that was attempted to be forced upon them. There's a near infinite amount of contradictory change being forced upon consumers to change in various directions, and consumers get to pick which succeeds... which really means they aren't being forced. The only group that can force consumers is the government.
    • by westlake (615356)
      The only way to get the masses to switch is to force it upon them. Hence the continuing popularity of Windows XP.

      XP 62%
      Vista 24%
      OSX 8%
      W2K 1%
      Linux 0.99%
      Win7 0.42%

      Operating System Market Share [hitslink.com] [May}

      So about 1 in 4 in the consumer market have migrated to Vista - I'd say almost certainly to a new mid-line laptop or desktop.

      It will be a tad embarrassing for the geek if Win7 overtakes Linux before its RTM in October.

  • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:46PM (#28299923) Homepage

    Curiously, an FM radio station I'd like to listen to says they'll be able to throttle up the power once NTSC station WTVR channel 6 in Richmond goes silent.

    I don't know what rule is limiting their transmission on 89.5 MHz due to interference with TV channel 6 (82-88 MHz, with the video carrier on 83.25 MHz and the audio carrier on 87.75 MHz).

    I suppose it's an IF thing, but I can't figure out how 10.7 MHz or 45 MHz fits in there.

    • by rmadmin (532701)
      In my jetta, I can pick up the audio from our local channel 6 station in the 80's. Think 87.7ish. :) RF can bleed a tad when you crank up the transmit power.
    • by budcub (92165)

      I'm no radio buff, but I found this:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FM_broadcast_band#Historic_US_bandplan [wikipedia.org]

      In March 2008, the FCC requested public comment on turning the bandwidth currently occupied by analog channels 5 and 6 (76â"88 MHz) over to extending the FM broadcast band when the digital television transition is completed in February 2009.[1] This proposed allocation would effectively assign frequencies corresponding to the existing Japanese FM radio service (which begins at 76 MHz) for use as an ex

    • by hey! (33014)

      Hmmm.

      I did the math, and on paper at least it seems extremely unlikely for an FM station operating at 89.5Mhz to interfere with Ch 6 NTSC audio. There should be at least 1.5Mhz of unused buffer spectrum between them. That's fairly comparable to the NTSC audio's separation from video, which is around 2MHz or so. FM radio stations are supposed to stay within about 180Khz of bandwidth.

  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@@@gmail...com> on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:50PM (#28299977)
    No more TV! So much free time! Thank you, government!
  • TV is the opiate of the proletariat, us highfalooting technocrats have the internet. That said, and given that I am too highfalootin to pay to watch commercials...

    When the reception is good the new over the air DTV picture is way better than analog though often there is a noticable delay between the visual and the audio tracks. This is annoying. You see the mouth move then hear the words a tenth of a second too late. When the reception is bad, DTV degrades poorly and you see ghosts and block people mo

  • I don't actually watch much TV but I switched my old TV to Digital over-the-air TV a while back.

    Over all I am happy with it, the pictures are sharp and clear and once I got a proper antenna set up it worked with few "drop outs".

    Getting an antenna set up isn't easy though. What is being transmitted may be digital but the air waves will always be analog. Too little signal strength and the signal can not be displayed at all. Too much strength and the receiver may apparently be "deafened" by it and also not abl

  • by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @05:32PM (#28300723)

    Here in Canada the deadline is 31 August 2011. There are a few digital transmitters on the air in major cities. Here in Vancouver I get CBC, CTV and Global on digital, plus KVOS (independent) and KBCB (home shopping - ugh!) from Bellingham, Washington. Set-top ATSC converters are not available here, so I bought one at Radio Shack in Portland last fall and hooked it up to my trusty multi-system TV.

    Even dumbed down to 480i NTSC, the picture quality is better than DVD. The CBC HD signal shows what digital can do: being less heavily compressed it's better than what you get on cable. None of the other local channels have gone digital yet.

    KVOS and KBCB pulled the NTSC plug in February. Their old analogue channels have been dead air ever since.

    The Canadian broadcasters are dragging their heels, pleading poverty and the end of civilization as we know it. Nothing new there.

    The cable companies have the general populace snowed in to believing that you must have cable to get any TV at all. Nothing new there, either.

    ...laura

  • Surefire motivation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @05:35PM (#28300769)

    Want to motivate everyone to pick up their converter box? They should have mandated this back when they delayed the switch the first time:

    Most of the broadcasters have half hour "How To Switch" public service programs. The FCC should have mandated that, in March, they pre-empt 25% of their analog programming with one of these programs. In April, 50%, in May, 75%, and by June, analog channels were to carry nothing but the DTV PSAs, or emergency broadcasts when necessary, 24 hours a day. Even worse, let the soap opera run for 5 minutes and then break in with "an important announcement concerning your television service". I'll bet that most people will run out and pick up a converter within days of the 50% threshold.

    I never did figure out why they simulcast the 'How to switch' PSAs on their digital channels. All they'd need is a reminder to rescan your converter after June 12th. And put that up full time on the UHF channels on June 12th for a week or so.

  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Thursday June 11, 2009 @05:38PM (#28300833) Homepage Journal

    I did a load of clothes at the local laundromat last night, and enjoyed a episode of the New Twilight Zone (which I guess is itself pretty old now) as my unmentionables tumbled in the dryer. The TV, perched precariously atop a non-functional pop machine, was older than my kids. The signal was fuzzy, and I believe the "antenna" was a brown extension cord, ends stripped and screwed into the old 300-ohm input. Most of the time the color dropped out, leaving the New Twilight Zone looking oddly like the Old Twilight Zone.

    A couple of weeks ago, I watched a static-y news broadcast at the local barber shop. His TV was equipped with a newfangled set of rabbit ears of much more recent vintage, maybe 10 years old or even newer.

    Tomorrow, both locations will almost certainly dish up nothing but that "analog nightlight". And even if the owners get a fancy new box -- not likely at the laundromat, and not terribly certain at the barber shop -- it won't help. The metal in the washers and dryers will probably futz up the digital signal beyond repair. At the barber shop, every time he turns on the clippers -- instead of just getting a little fuzzy, the screen will likely go blank.

    It should be an interesting day.

  • there are still millions of estimated viewers that are unprepared

    For what it's worth, some of us just don't give a fuck about broadcast TV and are looking forward to our signals being cut off. There're always Hulu and torrents, not to mention DVD rentals. So... don't forget about all two of us who aren't "unprepared," but are in fact awaiting a time when we won't be able to receive broadcast video! Vive la revolution!

  • Finally... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cyn1c77 (928549) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @05:45PM (#28300917)

    I am psyched! My wife and I were getting Direct TV until a few weeks ago. We recently got a new TV and tried to tune into the digital channels over the air and were pleasantly surprised. In fact, the increased quality of the network channels for free prompted me to cancel our basic cable (well, dish really) package instead of paying MORE to "upgrade" HD cable.

    I figure why pay pay to watch commercials when I can get them in HD for free?

    The cable company was a little disappointed, but they can go die. I can't believe they expected me to pay MORE money to upgrade to HD digital service when low rez analog service was going away anyway.

    The best part is that you get to keep the dish on the roof! Bonus!

  • Could we get going on the switch to the metric system now please? It would require about the same amount of effort and consumer education. Yards, acres, miles, feet - come on people, this is not the 1800s.

  • by TheSync (5291) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @06:02PM (#28301189) Journal

    If you are in LA, feel free to drop by Machine Project on Friday June 12th at 10pm for a talk by Jason Torchinsky about mechanical televisions, to be followed by a midnight countdown to the demise of analog TV. In memoriam of the TVs we all have known and loved/hated, we'll be gathering a pyramid of old TVs together for a countdown as they go to static. Please join us, and if you promise to bring it home with you afterwards, bring a TV for the pyramid.

    Farewell to Analog TV [machineproject.com] at Machine Project, Echo Park.

  • by kindbud (90044) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @06:06PM (#28301259) Homepage

    People who haven't yet got a box that is subsidized with a $40 government voucher are too poor or lazy to be valuable consumers. They're probably so poor they don't even pay taxes. Why spend millions upon millions of tax dollars to bring these bottom-of-the-barrel consumers to advertisers when they can't even afford the nearly-free converter? It's not worth it. The overall quality of audiences will be improved for advertisers if we just leave these last few millions of poor people behind.

  • by resistant (221968) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @06:15PM (#28301393) Homepage Journal

    I did a lot of research on this last year. For what it's worth, I'll offer a few thoughts from what I remember.

    First, get an antenna that can handle both UHF and VHF. Some stations will still broadcast on VHF. Ignore ridiculous marketing claims that an antenna is "digitally optimised" or "HDTV ready" or however that went. A signal is a signal. Having said that, from reports, some "UHF-only" indoor/outdoor antennas will actually do okay with VHF signals as well. I wish I'd known that last fact before buying a honking big outdoor VHF/UHF antenna. The "UHF-only" antennas take way less room. In any case, find out where the stations are located physically, and point the antenna at them. If they're dispersed, you may need a motor control to rotate the antenna, which is a pain, or multiple antennas, which is a big pain.

    When I finally bothered to hook up the analog/digital conversion box for more than brief testing, and a freaking huge outdoor VHF/UHF antenna *inside* my apartment (it's mounted on a short brass rod stuck in a hole drilled into the end of a two-by-four stub mounted on a large homemade work table, so that it's up near the ceiling), I got channels 8 (CBS), 10-1 (NBC), 10-2 (NBC), 13-1 (ABC), 13-2 (ABC), 21-1 (PBS), 21-2 (PBS), 21-3 (PBS), and 31 (Fox). This is four more channels than for analog. However, channels 8 and 13-1/13-2 are basically unwatchable, with signal levels too low. The picture constantly jerks and pixellates. I hoping those stations jack up the freaking power soon. There are some okay shows on 13-2, in particular. If not, screw it. If they don't care enough, why should I? I watch a lot of DVDs, and there are more okay films on DVD than I can realistically watch in a lifetime, even with only watching each film *once*.

    Second, don't get the absolute cheapest converter box. It'll likely have serious problems unless you get fairly lucky, such as sometimes severe audio lag, poor handling of marginal signals, a poor feature set, a tendency to fail early, etc. I ended up paying about $23 per box after taxes, for the ones I bought with the two $40 off coupons sent by the government. If you're interested, these were the Zenith DTT-901 model, May 2008 firmware. One feature I liked was "pass-through", but that obviously will make no difference very soon. I'm not up to speed on current models. Look on video fanatic forums. Odds are good you'll find a decent brand and model for little money. I can't remember if any $40 off coupons are still good, but if they are and you have them, use them for two copies of the same model, so you'll have one on hand while the other is in the shop, if needed. Worst comes to the worst, you can sell the extra copy or give it to a relation.

    If you're having trouble with elderly relations, tell them that the little box is a bully and that it has taken over the channel switching. It may sound a bit condescending, but if it works, why not? It's a clearer visual image for them than the obscurity of technical details. Be sure the remotes for them have large buttons and are as simple as possible. Keep the "good" remotes in a drawer, for when you need them to set up stuff. I use myself a nice Sony programmable remote, and it works well, but even I have a bit of trouble sometimes with flipping from one mode to another, whilst managing for example overlapping sound level controls (mainly when playing DVDs that seem to flip a coin when it comes to loudness). Asking elderly relations to cope with this kind of remote fiddliness will be too much if they already have trouble with the DTV changeover with which to begin. It will cause active pain (to you), but discard *everything* except power and start/stop (for DVDs if applicable) and volume and channels for your kindly but dumb elders. If you're daring, explain the fast forward button. One hopes that doesn't overlook anything!

    (Yeah, I know about TV Fool and such, but that's been covered in vast detail elsewhere, and I forgot most of it anyway, heh-heh!)

  • by RomulusNR (29439) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @06:37PM (#28301681) Homepage

    Within the last few weeks the local Comcast moved 40 of their sub-100 channels to digital-only. Probably more so they can do switched delivery [wikipedia.org] than because of the DTV transition (broadcast channels etc. are still being fed in analog). But it screwed with the recordings on my dual-tuner Tivo for weeks until I manually updated all of them to "box" from "cbl" -- annoyingly, cutting them out from the benefits of dual-tuner in the first place. :P

    So long, electromechanical television reception, you go into the pile with analog magnetic video storage and analog plastic audio storage. Analog radio reception, you're not looking too good...

  • by satsuke (263225) on Friday June 12, 2009 @12:01PM (#28309263)

    In Kansas City, most of the local stations all signed off at 9AM.

    I thought it fitting that WDAF-TV4 ended their broadcast with

    1. a crude "1949-2009" graphic
    2. A few seconds of the old indian head test pattern
    3. A video of the old stars and stripes video they always used at signoff everyday

    Followed by a "ceremony" with some backoffice engineers pushing the big button you aren't supposed to press.

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)

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