Thursday, December 25, 2008

A question of style for the masses

Should we put Truck Nuts on our Prius?

And, there this out-of-context blip:

A hunter could still throw a freshly killed and uncovered deer in the back of his pickup, though, because the deer's body parts would be real, Myers said.

Monday, December 22, 2008

This is going to be a hell of a mess

(Link goes to a NYT article giving, I fear, a too-rosy yet pssimistic prognostication of what the end-user experience will be like on Feb 18)

While not likely to cause as much economic upheaval as the sub-prime lending meltdown, say, or World War II, the switchover on February 18, 2009 to a digital-only television broadcast (making traditional over-the-air reception of television signals obsolete) is likely to be the first case of the general population having a piece of technology that they have had "forever" simply being taken away on a single day, never to come back. Even the next most sophisticated piece of electronics to be found in nearly 100% of homes over the last half decade (the telephone) has changed almost 0% in how users relate to the service.

"Forever", of course, in the sense that you would have to be older than 65 years old to have a clear memory of what it was like not to have it; ironically it is this group who is most likely to be affected by this forced transition since they are the ones who usually need to have any new technology rammed down their throats. And rammed it will be.

It is not hard at all to imagine Black Friday-like crowds rushing electronics stores on February 18-19 filled, not with the mindless cheerfulness of the Christmas shopping season, but with the mindless rage and frustration the only having something that they never paid for to begin with being taken away can engender.

From the article:

Those who have their converter boxes have discovered the “cliff effect.” If the over-the-air signal is not strong, the viewer does not receive a fuzzy picture as he might get with a weak analog signal; the viewer gets no picture at all because digital reception is all or nothing. In addition, depending on area, the rabbit ears intended to receive only VHF broadcast channels may need to be replaced with new digital units.
And on the day of the conversion, consumers will also need to direct their converter box to scan for channels. (If they want an up-to-date electronic program guide, they will need to have the box rescan the channels regularly.)
“We’re asking the elderly to go out in the snow to buy a converter box?” Mr. Kelsey said. “All we need on Feb. 18 is to have someone slip off their roof and get injured as they try to set up a new digital antenna.”

The fact that they could have avoided being without service had they redeemed a government issued coupon for a converter box can only be considered a sizable cherry on top. Nothing fires up the average American's joie de vivre like combining the simple everyday act of watching television with the bureucratic equivalent entanglements of filing one's taxes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Something I may or may not recommend depending on which ad is shown: