The Transition is Coming

January 5, 2009

As you may know, American television will switch to digital-only broadcasts on February 17.  Library members are very interested in the transition and have many questions. Please become familiar with the topics on these sites. Make sure everyone at your library will able to point your visitors in the right direction.  tvimage-tvset

Keep in Mind

  • For specific technical problems with digital equipment, TVs, and accessories, contact the manufacturer. 
  • If a consumer uses an antenna now, they will still need an antenna after the switch. All new televisions have digital tuners, but still require an antenna to pick up the signal. 
  • Cable sets are not affected by the DTV transition. The ongoing transition of cable networks to digital is not associated with the February 17 deadline. Analog cable subscribers do not have to switch to digital cable at this time. 

Web sites covering the transition

  • Get Ready for Digital TV (PBS)
    Watch This Old House episode – it covers several different transition scenarios at homes in Boston, including converter box and satellite setups. The program will also be re-aired several times on Nashville Public Television, WNPT.
  • The Digital TV Transition  (FCC)
    Site contains a directory of documentation for setting up digital TVs and converter boxes. Consumer Corner’s extensive FAQ covers many transition issues. Shopper’s Guide will familiarize you with the technical specs for buying new equipment.
  • TV Converter Box Coupon Program  (NTIA)
    Apply for up to two $40 coupons toward the digital converter boxes. The converter boxes will be required for older TVs using “rabbit ears” or roof-top antenna to pick up a signal. 
  • Coupon Eligible Converter Boxes 
  • Which (nearly) free DTV converter box should I buy?
    CNet guide to the best Converter boxes on the market.

It’s the third and final week of RSS Month! I hope we’ve shown you that RSS doesn’t have to be a lot of work. You don’t have to subscribe to MSNBC and get 400 news updates an hour. It can function as a reminder service (music and events), a shopping helper (Craigslist), or even a way to catch up on TV.

Yup, RSS and TV.

Do you watch TV? Do you ever miss the show you want to watch? What about shows you didn’t know you’d like but now you’re hooked and you missed the first season?

I’ve lost all the TiVo customers, but for those of you who remain, I’ve got a cool RSS trick to show you.

Did you know you can get shows like The Office, ER, The Colbert Report (and a lot of other shows) on a site called Hulu? Neat site, but who’s going to remember to go there while you’re gripped by “I missed my show” panic?

What if I told you that you can subscribe to TV shows in Hulu with your RSS reader? When a new episode is added, you’ll get an update in your feed reader with a link to the new episode!

And you’re not just subscribing to shows you know are online, either. You can subscibe to any number of feeds:

* Recently Added Videos
* Recently Added Shows
* Recently Added Movies
* Soon-to-Expire Videos (This is handy because current series episodes don’t stay on Hulu forever)

So, not only can you watch a show you missed, you can be altered when new series are added to Hulu – like Doogie Howser, M.D. It’s on Hulu.

There’s also a pretty neat tool around for those of you who’d rather not miss your favorite show. It’s called mytvrss. Select your favorite shows from the list and sign up for an RSS feed that will send you reminders when there’s a new episode. You’ll even get a nice little episode summary with each update. This is great for shows like American Experience and Frontline – shows that don’t require weekly devotion to a storyline.

One more thing…

If you don’t like Craigslist, you keep up with music just fine, and you have TiVo, there are other fun uses for RSS. Try getting a recipe a day, word of the day, or LOL cat of the day. Just remember, RSS doesn’t have to be a stress inducing nightmare – it can bring a smile to your face too.