Monday, February 18, 2008

Will the change to HDTV broadcastinng affect you?

The answer is quite simple.

If you have a TV without a HD tuner and you get your signal from an antenna, then on February 18, 2009, your TV will stop working unless you get a special "converter box". The converter box converts HD signals to an analog signal that your TV is capable of viewing.

Another thing for folks relying on antenna based TV reception to be concerned about is that the digital HD signals may not be as strong as the analog signal they are getting today. So, if you live on the fringe of reception, you may not be able to get the weaker signal.

If you have cable or satellite TV service, then you have nothing to worry about. Your TV signal provider will continue to provide a service that works with your current setup.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

HD DVD is Dead -- Blue Ray Wins

WallyWorld's recent announcement that that they have adopted the Blue-Ray format for high definition disks pretty much drives the last nail in the coffin for HD DVD. You can also bet that the plain old DVD format is going to disappear pretty soon. Now that the industry has a "standard" that they can count on, movie publishers will stop producing them on DVD, and will switch to Blue Ray.

So, what does this mean to you as a consumer?
  • more movies will soon be available in Blue Ray format
  • you will need to buy a Blue Ray player soon, as access to new movies in regular DVD format will be limited
  • you can expect to pay nearly twice as much when purchasing movies in Blue Ray format. I expect that prices will come down eventually, when the novelty wears off
  • you will not be able to experience any of the improvements of Blue Ray without an HD television and surround sound system
Backwards Compatibility
Don't worry about your old DVDs becoming obsolete. The Blue Ray players are backwards compatible, so you can play your DVD collection on them. You can also connect the player to a standard TV and it will work just fine.

Curious about the technology behind Blue Ray discs? Check out this article.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Q & A

We'll try to use this blog entry to keep you updated on listener/reader questions and our answers.

If you have an IT question, please post it here, and we'll see if we can help.

Don't Fall for Email Scams

We all get 'em. Those emails that warn us of a missing child, some new virus that will wipe out your hard drive, free giveaways, or foreign nationals needing assistance. They go on to describe some horror story, pleas for help, or promises of rich fortunes.

But guess what: Penny Brown and Evan Trembley are not missing. There is no Teddy Bear virus. Microsoft is not paying people to test email. Joseph A. Adisa did not get your email address from the Nigerian Export Promotions Council.

You got the message because someone fell for this hoax. Don't be a sucker, be smart and just delete the notice. Also let the person who sent it to you know that they fell for a hoax, and point them to information about how to identify such hoaxes.

General Rules of Thumb For Spotting Hoaxes
(compliments of Hoaxbusters)
  • The Hook First, there is a hook, to catch your interest and get you to read the rest of the letter. Hooks used to be "Make Money Fast" or "Get Rich" or similar statements related to making money for little or no work. Electronic chain letters also use the "free money" type of hooks, but have added hooks like "Danger!" and "Virus Alert" or "A Little Girl Is Dying". These tie into our fear for the survival of our computers or into our sympathy for some poor unfortunate person.

  • The Threat When you are hooked, you read on to the threat. Most threats used to warn you about the terrible things that will happen if you do not maintain the chain. However, others play on greed or sympathy to get you to pass the letter on. The threat often contains official or technical sounding language to get you to believe it is real.

  • The Request Finally, the request. Some older chain letters ask you to mail a dollar to the top ten names on the letter and then pass it on. The electronic ones simply admonish you to "Distribute this letter to as many people as possible." They never mention clogging the Internet or the fact that the message is a fake, they only want you to pass it on to others.
There are lots of good resources that you can read to learn how to spot hoaxes, such as:
I also recommend that you "Google" the key words or topics of the message. Chances are extremely high that you will find it is a hoax. Often times the hoaxes are "recycled" and given a second (or third) life after having been resurrected after years of dormancy.

Don't be gullible. Just delete it!