Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

A Smooth Transition?

Switch To DTV Did Not Cause Chaos, Riots

This morning my little portable TV I keep in my workshop was nothing but static. That is how I was reminded that American television broadcasters had shut off their analog transmissions and “gone digital”.

It seems it really did happen. Finally. And society did not collapse (further).

C/Net article: The day after the DTV transition
“Americans have survived the transition to digital television without incident.
The sky did not fall and there was no major shortage of digital converter boxes Friday when full-power broadcasters across the nation turned off their analog TV signals and started broadcasting only in digital. Calls to broadcasters and the Federal Communications Commission have been heavy the past few days, but officials say that the volume is within what the agency had expected…”
(I enjoyed some of the comments left on this one.)

It seems that the biggest problem people are having with getting over-the-air DTV is related to antennas. So here is a video showing how to build a Hi-Def DTV antenna out of coathangers for $1.50.

[note: I haven’t done this myself, but I have several “anecdotal” referrals.]

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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June 14, 2009 Posted by | advice, dtv, how to, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How To Watch TV On Your Computer

Q: Paul, I got an e-mail selling a program that it says will let me watch “thousands of channels” of television on my computer for a one-time fee. Seems like a good deal, but I thought I would ask you, do I need this program to watch TV shows, or is there a free one?

A: While your idea is singular – watching TV on the puter – the answer is multifaceted and complex.. I’ll do my best to break it into it’s logical chunks. When I’m done, I hope you’ll see why you don’t want to buy this program you refer to.

1) You’re thinking of two separate things by “TV”.. at least; because as you know, TV starts with a source (“feed” or “signal” or “transmission”).

For computers there’s two main sources:
a: the Internet via a “feed” called IPTV (the TV signals are sent as Internet “packets”, basically the same as any other Internet “packet”. {e-mail, VoIP (telephony), file transfers, datagrams, HTML webpages, etc.})

b: “normal” sources — Satellite, over-the air transmissions, and cable.
I assume that you know the difference between Adobe Flash-based ‘movies’ (and also WMV video files) that play on sites such as YouTube (frequently referred to as “videos”) and “TV” — and  I am assuming you’re talking about the latter. You are talking about NBC, CBS, CNN, TNT, etc., but using the computer as your “screen” instead of a television set. Right? Let’s proceed.tractor

The “thousands of channels”…
Spanish, Ruskie, Japanese, and Swedish language channels, French, Canadian, British, German, and Italian channels, the Upper Silesian Used Tractor Auction Channel (I hear it can get lively there, and sometimes fights break out), the South Korean version of C-Span (I hear it can get lively there, and sometimes fights break out).
The Internet doesn’t filter. If I typed in http://www.ustac.com (home of the used tractors).. AND the Upper Silesian Used Tractor Auction Channel website provides a “live feed”.. I can click the link and start watching the auction.
Here in the US, I would be much more likely to type in http://www.cbs.com

Go ahead and click that link now.. you will see a selection of “live feeds”, live feeds in HD, watch-TV-with-others-and-chat ‘rooms’, and pre-recorded episodes, to choose from.
No special magic. No special program to download. Usually, you get the commercials too (as an added bonus!)

So.. on the Internet.. how do you see what’s available? Unfortunately, there isn’t a TV Guide Internet Version per say. There are however, “feed aggregator” sites.. the most popular are Hulu and Joost.Typically, what people do is use a search engine to find a “feed” for something they know they want to watch

Now.. a separate question is taking your current “feed” (cable, satellite, etc.) and plugging it into a PC instead of TV. Well, the distinction between “TV’s” and “monitors” is .. well, there is none now. Modern TV’s are basically just great big monitors, and can be used as such quite easily. But they usually have two things the typical PC doesn’t, though:
a) a “tuner”
b) a coaxial cable port
This is solved by the use of a specialized graphics card.. or “TV Tuner card” (not much distinction) which will give you both a “tuner” and a coaxial “in” (the source feed). The most popular of these is the ATI “All-in-Wonder” series of cards.

In conclusion —
This program doesn’t do anything the Internet doesn’t already do, but, hey, it will make it easy to find Portuguese weather reports.. in Portuguese. (But then.. so will Google.)
If your PC doesn’t have a coax “In”, you have to buy an “adapter” (like the ATI card). As soon as you do, hook up one of your spare coax cables, and you’ll get the same “feed” your TV sets get.

Hope that helped… And I hope you know to always think twice about unsolicited e-mail. It’s called “spam” for a reason.

Today’s free link: Demo: Tune in to movies and TV shows on the web. Watch this demo to learn how to use your computer to watch entire TV shows and movies over the Internet.

Folks, what’s your favorite “web TV” site? Let us know with a comment.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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April 21, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, digital Video, dtv, how to, Internet, PC | , , , , , , , | 15 Comments