Archive for January, 2008

“I hit a deer!” – A statement I’d hoped I would never hear.

January 17th, 2008 No comments

I’ve always heard of folks hitting a deer and have even come close myself once in my life. I sure did not want to hear my wife say it when she called me not long after leaving for work about a week ago. She was on her way to work in the early morning hours one Sunday morning and had not made it outside of the city limits when a deer jumped out in front of her. It was too late! The damage was done.

Fortunately she was not hurt just shaken. The deer? We do not know. There was no body to be found. We’re also not sure if it was a buck or a doe. When asked by the police officer she replied “I have no idea!” For now the van is in the very capable hands of Clinton Body Shop. They did such a good job on my Bonneville a few years back. Now we just have to wait for it to be repaired. No pics as I neglected to take any before the body shop started repairs.

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DTV – Will it impact my viewing?

January 3rd, 2008 No comments

My friends have all talked about this HDTV change coming up but I’ve never really cared about it. It won’t affect my service (DirecTV). So what is all the hubub about? I took the time to read up on the things I would be interested in if I cared about the switch. I found several bits of information on the site as well as others. Here is what I found.What do I need to do to be ready for the end of analog TV broadcasting?

Because Congress mandated that the last day for full-power television stations to broadcast in analog would be February 17, 2009, over-the-air TV broadcasts will be in digital only after that date. If you have one or more televisions that receive free over-the-air television programming (with a roof-top antenna or “rabbit ears” on the TV), the type of TV you own is very important. A digital television (a TV with an internal digital tuner) will allow you to continue to watch free over-the-air programming after February 17, 2009. However, if you have an analog television, you will need a digital-to-analog converter box to continue to watch broadcast television on that set. This converter box will also enable you to see any additional multicast programming that your local stations are offering.

To help consumers with the DTV transition, the Government established the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a part of the Department of Commerce, administers this program. Every U.S. household is eligible to receive up to two coupons, worth $40 each, toward the purchase of eligible digital-to-analog converter boxes. You will be able to request the coupons beginning in January of 2008. The coupons may only be used for eligible converter boxes sold at participating consumer electronics retailers, and the coupons must be used at the time of purchase. Manufacturers estimate that digital-to-analog converter boxes will sell from $50 to $70 each. This is a one-time cost. For more information on the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program, visit the NTIA’s website at, or call 1-888-388-2009 (voice) or 1-877-530-2634 (TTY).

Cable and satellite TV subscribers with analog TVs hooked up to their cable or satellite service should not be affected by the February 17, 2009 cut-off date for full-power analog broadcasting.

What Is HDTV?

DTV stands for Digital Television. It is the term used to describe the new Digital Television System. This system allows stations to broadcast programs and data with higher resolution and clarity than is possible with standard analog television. There are two levels of DTV:

(1) HDTV (High Definition Television) This is the highest quality DTV, with resolution of 720p to 1080i or higher and being produced in a 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio with Dolby Digital audio.

(2) SDTV (Standard Definition Television) This refers to a system that provides a display resolution that is lower than that of HDTV but higher than the analog signal that is being used today. The picture quality of SDTV is comparable to today’s digital satellite and DVD (Digital Video Disc) picture quality.

The National Television Standards Committee (NTSC) broadcast system we currently use has been around for more than 50 years. In December 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a new U.S. standard called the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC).

The NTSC standard we use today determines the highest picture quality possible using analog signals. The ATSC standard defines the FCC approved guidelines for digital television broadcasting.

Through 2007, a transition from analog to digital television will take place, bringing into the consumer’s home an unbelievable picture, digital surround sound and many new features.

What Do Analog and Digital Mean?

The NTSC system is broadcast using an analog signal carried on radio waves. These waves carry through the air differences in voltage to represent changes in the carrier frequency. These changes in voltage represent everything from black to white, dark to light, soft to loud sounds etc. The signal is highly susceptible to interference from weather, buildings and other obstructions which can cause snow and ghosting in the picture.

The ATSC or DTV system broadcasts using a digital binary signal, a series of 1’s and 0’s in a particular order, to represent the changes in voltage levels. A digital encoder reads the original signal (picture and sound) and then converts it into 10 digit numbers. It samples the signal 13.5 million times per second. This series of 10 digit numbers, representing the picture is what is then transmitted on the same type of waves.

Since the information is either a 1 or a 0, the streams of data are cleaner and easier to receive. By using a digital signal, much more information can be broadcast resulting in a cleaner, more detailed picture without interference. Digital pictures are perfect, they look exactly the same in your home as they do in the studio from which they were broadcast. However, if you lose a digital signal, you lose it completely, no in-between picture quality. With digital, it’s all or nothing!

Some good examples of digital vs. analog are; the difference between an LP record and a CD, or a VHS tape and a DVD. But the difference between analog and digital television will be even greater.

Additionally, Dolby Digital Surround sound is the audio standard for DTV, this is the same sound as is found in your better motion picture theaters, better than CD quality, 5.1 channel sound is what we have to look forward to.

Also, the digital signal can be compressed to carry more than one channel at a time (Multicasting), or to carry information (Datacasting).

The future possibilities for DTV are staggering.

What Does Widescreen Or 16:9 Mean?

This refers to the picture’s screen format or shape. The ratio of a screen’s width to its height is called the aspect ratio.

When you see the words “THIS FILM HAS BEEN FORMATTED TO FIT YOUR TV” this means that the widescreen image from the original movie has been chopped or modified to fit your nearly square television at home.

Analog televisions typically have an aspect ratio of 4:3 (pronounced 4 by 3), in other words, if a television is three inches high, it has to be four inches wide to display today’s analog signal. 4 parts wide by 3 parts high.

The new digital standard supports a wider screen, with an aspect ratio of 16:9. (or 16 parts wide by 9 parts high) reminiscent of the widescreens found in the theater. The ATSC standard supports both of these picture shapes.

Many digital televisions and all HDTVs will support a wider, more cinematic screen shape to enable you to see the whole picture in the wide format in which it was filmed.

Not all HDTVs will be in a 16:9 format, some will be the traditional 4:3 shape. In order to qualify as a High Definition Television, a set must be able to display a 16:9 format and reproduce at least 1 million pixels. To display a widescreen image on a square TV, manufacturers will often “Letterbox” or shrink the image until it fits on the screen, then the top and bottom of the screen are filled in with dark bands. As a rule of thumb, if a television set can display a one-million pixel count, it can be classified as a HDTV. Pixel count can be determined by multiplying the horizontal lines of resolution by the vertical lines.

What are the different Resolution Standards?

SDTV can be either 480i or 480p (the p stands for progressive) and will most likely be in a 4:3 aspect ratio.

HDTV signals, on the other hand, will be 720p, 1080i or 1080p and will be presented in a 16:9 ratio.

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