Tech – for Everyone

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

40 Days To Armageddon

(Or, Are You Ready For The Digital Switch?)

In just a few short weeks the world will come to an end, and life as we know it will cease to be.

Of course, what I’m referring to the upcoming digital TV transition.
Congress mandated that February 17, 2009 would be the last day for full-power television stations to broadcast in analog. Broadcast stations in all U.S. markets are currently broadcasting in both analog and digital. After February 17, 2009, full-power television stations will broadcast in digital only.old_tv_set

What do I need to do to be ready for the end of analog TV broadcasting?

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.

Analog sets should continue to work as before if connected to a subscription service such as cable or satellite TV. Also, analog sets should continue to work with gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players, and similar products that you use now.

Will I need a special antenna to receive DTV over-the-air?

In general, dependable reception of over-the-air digital TV programming will require the same type of signal reception equipment that currently works to provide good quality reception of analog TV programming. If you need a roof-top antenna to receive analog TV broadcasts, the same antenna generally will work to receive digital TV broadcasts. You should not have to purchase new antennas that are marketed as “digital ready” or “HD ready.”

What is the Converter Box Coupon Program?

To help consumers with the DTV transition, the Government established the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon 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.

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. (Please note that these coupons will expire 90 days after mailing). Manufacturers estimate that digital-to-analog converter boxes will sell from $40 to $70 each. This is a one-time cost. For more information on the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program, visit www.dtv2009.gov, or call 1-888-388-2009 (voice) or 1-877-530-2634 (TTY).
[note: the coupon program’s funding has already been reached, and if you’re just acting now, you’ll be put on a first-come-first-served waiting list which may, or may not get you a coupon.. depends on how many coupons are cashed/expire.]

Today’s free link: The place to get answers to all your questions about the digital transition (in fact, the info above was largely copy > paste from there) is the special website provided by the Federal Communication Commission, http://www.dtv.gov/consumercorner.html

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

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January 8, 2009 Posted by | advice, HDTV, how to, News, shopping for, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

IE’s Menu bar, Taskbar icons, and bad Updates*

Reader questions this week bring me back to IE 7 and the Taskbar, and a new topic: what to do when an Update causes crashes and other troubles. So today I will not post my usual Tip of the day, but the (hopefully) now familiar “Q’s and their A’s” format.

IE 7 Questions:   (you may want to review my post on IE7 Security zones, and Questions answered, as well.)

Q: My Explorer menu bar disappeared, how do I get it back?
A: In IE version 7, the old familiar menu bar (File, Edit, View, etc.) was removed from the default configuration to ‘streamline’ IE’s look, and quite possibly because Microsoft was aware that people were installing their own toolbars (see “toolbar madness“). To get it back, use a method similar to the one used for Windows’ Taskbar. Click on the down arrow next to the gray “gear” icon marked “Tools” and click on the Menu bar option. Now a checkmark will appear next to it, and your menu bar is back. To keep it there, hover your mouse over the option below Menu bar, “Toolbars”, and click on (select) the “Lock the toolbars” option.
While you’re there, you may want to play around with the “Customize” option and tweak which buttons appear on your bars.

Q: I can’t add a site to my Trusted zone:
A: I answered this in the previous answers post, but this detail is worth repeating: The person was on their personal machine and was running as an administrator, so there’s no problem there. The trouble was they hadn’t cleared the checkbox next to “Require server verification (https:) for all sites in this zone”.https.jpgThe difference is the “s” at the end of “http”, which indicates a special, secured Internet protocol. You will know if you’re on such a Website by the gold lock icon that appears in the URL window (and/or elsewhere on the page). It is an encrypted connection generally only used for electronic payment sites. A check here prevents you from adding regular websites.

Q: Can I make IE block sites when my child is browsing, but allow them for me?
A: This is a great question! And the answers are: yes, sort of, and … how many sites are we talking about? There are a couple of ways to go about this, but I want to spend more time on this topic than there’s room for here today. Protecting your children from the dangers of the Internet is a huge subject. Please see my page on this topic. 

Taskbar question:

Q: What happened to the icons in my Taskbar?
A: These “my icons disappeared” questions depend on if we’re talking about the Notification area (on the right, by the clock), or the Quick Launch area (on the left, by the Start button).
In the Notification area, an icon’s disappearance usually indicates that the “process” has gone idle and is not “running” at the moment.That means it isn’t needed, and hasn’t been needed for quite some time. It will run when it’s needed so, in this case don’t worry about it. In some instances, such as the speaker icon or the the two PC’s network icon,
speaker.jpg
a checkbox has become unchecked and you simply need to check it again. Click on Start >Control Panel >Speakers and Audio devices, and select (check) the “Place an icon in the Taskbar”.

If the Quick Launch icons have disappeared, right-click on a blank area in the Taskbar and select Properties. Click on the Taskbar tab, and place a check in the checkbox labeled “Show Quick Launch”. As I have mentioned before, these Quick Launch icons are simply shortcuts. You can add more shortcuts here by simple drag-and-drop, or remove the ones you never use.

NOTE: If your icons have always been there and then, suddenly, some (or all) of them are gone — you may have picked up some malware. I recommend that you run “deep” antivirus and an anti-spyware scans immediately.

Windows Update:

Q: An Update is causing BSOD’s, what do I do?
A: From time to time a Microsoft security Update will not be compatible with the software and/or device drivers on your machine and the instability will trigger the Blue Screen Of Death (for more on BSOD’s and what to do, see “When good computers go bad“). Usually, Microsoft will repair this and issue a new Update … eventually. In the meantime, remove the Update (If you’re not sure which Update is the perp, remove the most recent ones) by going to Add/Remove Programs in your Control Panel. (Start >Settings >Control Panel >Add/Remove Programs) Now look to the top area and place a check (select) in the “Show updates” checkbox. Now you will be able to see the list of installed Updates.

Click on the Update you want to remove, and click on the Remove button.

Today’s free link: I do NOT recommend uninstalling security updates unless they cause your machine to become inoperable. I am a big fan of security updates and want all my vulnerabilities patched. If you’re like me in that aspect, Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector is for you. While this software is still in beta, it is very good at scanning all your programs and reporting any missing updates and open vulnerabilities. (Thanks Ryan!)

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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May 20, 2008 Posted by | advice, BSOD, computers, how to, IE 7, PC, removing Updates, tech, troubleshooting, tweaks, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments