Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What's the scoop.

As a self-professed expert I'm here to share some knowledge with you. As you may or may not know, there's something in the air. No I'm not talking about all those cool things that Apple is doing (though they are very very cool). I'm talking about TV. Digital Tv; yeah it's not just coming, it's here. Yes it's true, a few years ago a group of people got together and decided it was time for us as a people to advance. Without going into too much detail or expounding too much on the politics of it, they were actually right, but I'll explain that in a minute. So they passed a law that all TV stations broadcast digitally by 2009 (February I think) And so it began.

Ok for those of you who were wondering here a breif and vague, very vague history lesson.

So once upon a time a bunch of people got together and decided it was time to form a more perfect union, a collection of United States as it were. But as luck would have it, they had no idea the changes that they would soon come across. You see at this time no one knew anything about waves, other than the kind that could be found in the seas. There were no Televisions, no telephones, no radios and no internet.

As odd as it may seem, even though these things were yet to be discovered, the government they created was crafted in a way to let it adapt to the needs of the people in what ever time they may be in, more or less according to the people's collective will.

Well within a few years, radio waves were discovered by a couple of dudes, Popov and Marconi (no pasta jokes please, it's not even spelled like that ü). Then were these guys Eastman and Kodak, I have no idea what they did, but I think their story fits in right a b o u t here.

And there was a local boy. Changed the world he did. They called him Phil. Ok I call him phil. Ok this is my first time, but I'm going to now. Phil said hmm all those spinning television type things aren't very grand; you see tv's used to work in a circular kind of way. Till Phil came along that is. See Phil was a farmer, and phil was doing what farmers do, he was farming, and one day it hit him. If you could make a TV work like a plow it would be much more effficient, and a lot easier to actually watch. And he made the first camcorder, or so the story goes. But alas, there was this war. Actually there were a couple, one at home, and one abroad. And Phil, being the good citizen that he was left the one at home to fight the one abroad. Unfortunately for him, when he came back, he had basically lost his Fight with the Big dudes at RCA. His patents were expiring and they got the lions share of the spoils.

Well somewhere in this time, the people noticed that if two signals were broadcast in the same piece of the spectrum, they could interfere with each other, or perhaps even become unusable. It was decided that there needed to be an interestate organization that could regulate this. Remember those people that we were talking about earlier? Well they decided it was important to ensure that people could print whatever they wanted without a government throwing some big tizzy fit. Essentially These new radio waves were an extension of that. In order to ensure public access, the newly formed org. started issueing licenses essentially selling of chunks of the radio spectrum in various regions to various people (it is good to note here that televisions and radios both use radio waves (actually the frequencies are similar). And near as I can tell this process has generally been on the up and up. Ü

Some places still had some free space. Some places were running out, but then this thing called digital came along. You see, before people broadcasted with analog signals; they work well, but the were kinda bulky. really bulky actually. Somehow some people discovered these new digital thingys, and voilá. Digital TV was invented. The physics gets tricky here, but basically a ton more information can be packed in an incredibly small space with the new improved Digital TV. And there a lot less chance for 'interference' from a different signal. But that's another matter altogether. So some people in a city, in a country south of Canada, decided that the benefits were there, or that it was time to go digital.

So what does this mean: Gone Digital.
Basically it looks like this; by this time next year all Broadcast stations have to be sending out a smaller, more nutrient rich signal for people to receive.

So everyone goes digital right?
not exactly. All broadcasters have to be digital but a lot of people don't get a broadcast signal. No I'm not talk about those dish people (nope not cable either). I 'm talking about translators. You see if the station you're watching says it's channel 4 for instance but your tv says it's 17 then you are watching a translator: No Requirement. Actually until 85% of the households reached can get a digital signal, a station can use a backdoor, and keep their analog signal, if they do it right: all legit.

So I'm not going digital?
Wrong again. Even though translators don't have to go digital, most of them are. In some ways digital is cheaper for the station and they can pump out even more content for a lot less money. I have it on good authority that many translators are already sending their digital signals (I've been watching them for about a month now).

More content? is this true?
This is way true. I get two stations from Fox, CBS, NBC, and ABC (one widescreen and one with a more traditional format) I also get NBC's weather channel, and seven or eight PBS stations (all different)

More PBS stations?
Yes. I get KBYU, BYUTV, BYUTVI, And CREATE (mostly cooking shows and home 'improvement' stuff) I also get a spanish station (Vme) still PBS, and a couple from the U.
There are four others, including one that is basically cartoons, but I don't get them yet.

So how do I (meaning the general public) get this great new stuff?
There are basically four ways that one could do it. Sign up for pay Tv (lame! well unless you really want the food network or something ü), but you might not get the exact same things. You could buy a new TV (yes I mean brand new, had to ship after this time last year to be guaranteed) or anything that says it has an HD receiver. Most new DVD recorders, and VCR s also fit in this category ( alas mine is too old). Or you can "buy" a converter box.
(or you can do what I did, find an old USDTV box, and hit the reprogram button). Ü

So is it time to buy?
Actually no. Sure you could go to your local store that sells practically everything, or even just electronics, and they would probably have a box that you could buy for about fifty bucks, but you'd be getting a pretty raw deal.

What this cost money?
Well yeah sort of, but you can get a coupon to help you with the costs.

A coupon?
Yes every household can get two coupons for $40 off. I reccommend that every household get their two coupons (give your extra one to a friend with way too many old TVs if you have to).

So is this just me paying for a converter with my own tax dollars?
Not really. You see when the stations start broadcasting in their new smaller more efficient packages, a lot of the old space is freed up, which a certain government agency can the re-sell to large googlesque corporations with billions of dollars. (current bids total about 19 trillion unless I added too many zero's)

So whats the scoop on the coupon?
It simple really every household can get two coupons for $40 off any digital receiver on the approved list(total savings eighty dollars).... but there are some conditions. First most of the coupons will only be accepted by stores that you can actually walk into. So Ebay, and Amazon are out ( I think). Point number two the coupons will only be good for about 3 months, and then they expire. To get your free coupons just hop on over to
But if I had it to do over I might wait just a bit.

Why would you wait?
Well technology does two very funny things, it tends to get cheaper with time, and the first stuff never seems to be all that great. So if you had your coupon, and a ten dollar bill, you could walk into a store and get a great and simple little box, that would work really well, but I think we will see things that are even better in just a few months.

So what do you reccommend?
I would order my coupon in a month or so, because I just heard about a sweet little box coming out in june.

Will there be updates on this blog?
Yes I think there will. I plan to put a list in the side bar that tells my recommended converters.
Basically I recommend getting as much power as you can.

What extras could I be looking for in a box?
The sky is the limit here, but I will give you some ideas. My box has Optical audio output. Digital and analog output. a USB slot for something, and maybe even HDMI.
Some of the new boxes include feature like NTSC pass through (so all the old stations will still work -- this is especially true for that one person who actually watches the CW or UEN Ü) maybe even KCSG, but they're getting closer to where it will work. NTSC is the current system.
Also I hear rumors that echostar is releasing one with a programming guide built in. (7 days worth, for free). and there there are things like modems, and ethernet (incase someone wants to update your box for you). And of course they make a box or two that has a little bit of memory for storing extra features, or whatever digital goodies the companies can find.

So how do I know what to buy (other than reading this space religiously)?
the simple method is to look at the box (two meanings here). first you can look at the cardboard. I would. the more features it lists the better. The lox at the actual box. If there a a lot of things on the back your getting a lot more options (usually). If there are four spots on the back your getting a very functional, but overpriced, free box that will totally do it's job, but won't impress you when you find out what you could have had.

So how big are these boxes?
Actually they are quite small. about 8x8 and one or two inches high (mine is like twice that big,
but I opened it up, and it's mostly just air (really)).

So there have it Digital TV in a nutshell
(yes it's a very large nut, but more or less that's the scoop.

Feel free to ask any questions that I omitted. I can make up answers to those too.
and thanks for reading

Friday, February 22, 2008

wishes and fishes (minus the fish)

My sister has recently been pestering me for gift ideas.
you know, christmas and birthdays and such.

But I "haven't been much help. "

this here is a "helpful list."
Patterned after the ones she does.


Things I would love to get:
(the Copy and paste edition)

#1 Buffett & Gates Go Back to School DVD

Single DVD
Item No. BGAT601
Our Price: $24.99
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are the two richest men in America and very close friends. Though a generation apart in age, and founders of two very different businesses, each has a deep admiration for the other. They share a sense of responsibility to use their wealth to improve the world. In September 2005, the two men spent the day at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with students and faculty from the College of Business Administration.

#2Iron Chef America DVD: Battle of th...  By Iron Chef
Iron Chef America DVD: Battle of th...
By Iron Chef

Even cheaper at Amazon
(but even more than that I would love the real iron Chef on DVD)

Mini Greek new Testament

And Games
Board games
or party games
whatever really.
Mostly I'm looking for games that 6 or more people can play
or games that two people can play.
not so much games aimed at 4 people.

Some of the companies I like include
Rio Grande
well anything that causes/ encourages thinking really.

Of course any books would be welcomed.
I especially would like the writings of Josephus.
Remembering Joseph (mckonkie)
a translation of the q'uran 
I know, a little odd, but I'd really like to read it.
if I could get one with the original text, and the translation that would be awesome.

well Stace' there you have it.
my birthday list a whole....
um, well a few weeks early anyway.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tzatziki! Tzatziki.

I know there there are many moments that you have all been waiting for,
but the one to trump them all is finally here.

Yep , I'm posting Tzatziki.
The recipe you've been dying to have.

This is the Recipe as I found it. (mildly lame, or otherwise impaired)
1lb yougurt
2 cloves garlic
1 cucumber
1 tsp dillweed.

serves eight
Serves eight?
are they kidding like as a drink or what?
you could easily serve more than eight with that batch.

Well oddly enough I wasn't very satisfied with my tzatziki.
so I added some things,
and then I did it again,
and again and again.

appearently how you make your tz dip is as important as what you include.

for instance do you grate the cuc?
do you take out the seeds?
do you blend the whole thing (in a blender)?
how long should it sit before eating?
what type of garlic do you use?

I'm not going to answer all your questions,
you kind just have to feel your way through it,
but I will share some of my tips.

Number one seeds in your Cuc' make your tzatziki more runny.
Shredding your Cuc' makes tzakziki more runny,
(shredding a cuc' with seeds, will make it even more runny).
and then if you blend it, it's puts this runnyness to shame.

Some runnyness will add to the quality of your dip,
but how much you will is a personal thing.

Also American yogurt is just not the same as the Greek stuff.

so to thicken, and adjust the recipe,
I cut the yogurt with sour cream.

Did I mention that I have no idea what I'm doing?
I kin'na just feel it.
(not literally that would be gross) but I think it's kind of intuitive.
you'll get it after a while.

So my Tzatziki (version 4.0 or something like that.)

I buy a large tub of yogurt. (it might be a lb, but I'm not sure)
it's about five inches high, by three inches around or something like that (I'm just guessing)
I usually look for live cultures,
but I'm not sure that it matters.

and make sure you don't get the fruity, or vanilla stuff (it won't work the same way)

Ok so here is my recipe.

Appox. 1/2 tub plain yogurt.
1/2 a tub sour cream
(sour cream should be standard size which is about 1/2 the size of the yogurt)
(thus it turns out to be about 2/3 yogurt, and 1/3 sour cream)
1 Cucumber
If your cucumber is big it might only take a half
I like to shred mine, but of course you can chop or dice or slice
and sometimes I let it drain off some of the juices
1 tsp Dill
And now for my special signature touches
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 Tbls. Olive oil
2 or 3 drops of lemon juice
It doesn't take much, but it adds a lot

some parsley and or mint
and 1/2 tsp celery salt. (can use 1/4 tsp salt instead if you prefer)

Serve with pita chips, over meat, or however you want really .
Kali Orexi

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Random plus etc.

Here is a post on random or otherwise trivial bits of stuff

#1 Google loves me.
That's right they sent me a valentine,
they said 'hey type in this code, so we can give you money.'
Yep, they have my money. Not a lot but it will be sweet when they send it.
of course they won't send it till I make $100 but that could be in two years.
See I've been putting little ads on my pages,
and some of them actually make me money, (especially ones from Apple and Microsoft).
Ok I more just give google a place to put ads,
but still I make money. did I mention that?

It's about $1 per month I figure the math goes something like this
(roughly speaking that is). For every blog that I write I get about a nickel for every person that reads my blog. So over the past two years I've averaged about a buck per month. And yes there have been some months were I didn't make anything.
(and that's ok, cause it's not really why I write, though it might be a larger part of it, if I start making more money Ü)

They also have money for searches and Videos.
but I don't have much of either of those.

Oh yeah and one month I made $5 wooo.

Point number Two
It's Blu-ray.

Yep there's unofficially a winner, and it's Blu-ray
HD-DVD is dying.


It should be good,
but then it may not matter, if iTunes takes over.
Those apple people are really smart.

(and while their stock has dropped a lot lately)
I think we will see some crazy big things.
and yes I think they will regain a lot of the lost ground with their stocks,
but what do I know.

oh yes I'm banning Red.
I don't care how much you love it.
I want it gone.
that's right I've seen too many photos ruined by someone wearing some atrocious red thing-a-mabobber. So please no Bright reds for your photos. variations are ok,
but no bright reds.