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Beyond Belief- Fuzzy Logic

By the time you read this there will be just a few shopping days left before the big switch. Yup, I’m talking D-day. Digital TV is on its way. America is going completely digital on February 17th. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has been hyping the crystal clear pictures and surround sound audio, and more channels to choose from than Philo T. Farnsworth could have ever imagined. No more fuzzy, ghosted, snowy television pictures and rabbit ear antennas that make you get up every time you want to change the channel. (As Bill Cosby used to say, rrrright!, but more on that in a minute.) The FCC will even give you a $40 dollar coupon to buy a digital converter and switch.

Don’t worry you don’t have to buy a new TV yet. Luckily we can still use our old TVs after “D-Day”, though right now you couldn’t give away a really nice tube TV to the Good Will if you begged them. But it is a great “fuzzy logic” argument to get that new flat screen your kids (or husband more likely) has been salivating over for the past two years.

I’m guessing, however, that your son or daughter announced to you last fall that the government “required” that your family would “have to” get a new TV, not just any TV put a 40 or 50 inch large flat screen plasma or LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) “high definition television”. And they urged you that you really needed to do it right away.

If after all that you still waited, well it may be too late to send in for your free government $40 coupon by February 17th, but you still have time to get to the store to buy a digital converter, but you better hurry up.
I personally heeded the FCC warnings, sent in for the coupon, bought the deluxe digital tuner and the HDTV “superior quality omni-directional antenna” and came home with high hopes of superior quality digital TV. Well I am here to tell you that D-Day will not be all wine and roses here on the island. Turns out they, our wonderful FCC, failed to mention, except in the fine print, that digital TV does not work equally for everyone. I learned this the hard way.

Here on the Bass Islands we are about 40-50 miles from the closest TV signal towers. (www.myantenna.com). It turns that in Put-in-Bay not only does your antenna need a reasonably unobstructed line of site view to the signal tower, it also needs to be within a few degrees of being perfectly aligned with the tower signal. And because of our distance to the signal towers, weather is a now a factor too. So if you don’t have the antenna adjusted just so and it’s a cloudy day you will experience what they call the “digital cliff”.

What is the “digital cliff”, well that is when your pictures goes from happy and amazingly clear to a picture that resembles a badly arranged jigsaw puzzle. The audio stops and the picture lurches forward a few seconds at a time until the cloud moves or your neighbor’s car goes by. The good news is, if your were lucky enough to heed you kids advice to buy a flat screen TV, you are one step ahead at this point because you have a digital tuner built in to that brand new HDTV, but unless you have a roof top antenna you may be wishing you signed up for cable or satellite service last fall when the installers could still get here. If not and your like me, a broken rotor on the roof top antenna, you will be enjoying the two remote digital tuner two-step. Get up, sit down, get up, move the antenna to the left, sit down, cha, cha, cha…

Thank goodness for Canada. The Canadians will not be adopting the new digital standards for at least another year. So at least on a bad night for “over the airwaves” digital TV we can still watch a fuzzy channel of “analog” Canadian TV.

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