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joedoc (3603)

joedoc
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Journal of joedoc (3603)

Wednesday November 13, 2002
10:51 AM

why technology is just....friggin' awesome

[ #8931 ]

As long as I've worked in this industry, I'm still awed by what we're able to do in regards to technology and how it affects us so casually. Maybe it's my age (almost 48) and the fact that I've spanned generations of not having all this stuff, then having it all.

Case in point: I have a DirecTV satellite dish at my home. Last week, they began offering local channels on the dish. I really wanted to get this because I currently have a YAGI-style antenna on my house, and it's just a big lightning rod.

{Go ahead, lecture me on proper grounding. I have all kinds of grounding, and yet the previous antenna too a direct hit this summer, taking down many electronic devices in my house. All the grounding in the world doesn't mean manure to a 50,000 volt whacking from the sky.}

Anyway, in order to get this new feature, I had to upgrade a receiver and install a slightly larger dish that can point to two satellites. I was installing this last night, and managed to get it pointed and drawing a signal pretty easily.

I was tightening down the bolts that hold everything in place when the amazement occurred to me. I recall an event...jeez, can it be 40, 42 years ago...when the first satellite TV transmission between Japan and the US was broadcast on one of the networks, on a morning news show. I remember the brief interview done with what I believe was a member of the Japanese government.

The transmission was a bit fuzzy and occasionally dropped out for a second, (plus it was in black-and-white, which is what Mom and Dad provided for us back then), but I have this vivid memory of this and how it seemed like a big deal...live TV from around the world via space.

Now, here I am, 40-something years later, dropping a 23" platter to a mounting pole in my backyard, and twisting it to an approximate location until the receiver in my bedroom gives me a nice strong signal. The two LNBs on the arm are about six inches apart, yet they pull down all this stuff from two satellites, 25,000 miles up and 18 degrees apart in space. One can't help but to pause at the wonder of it all. And, yet we often take all of this for granted.

On this satellite web forum I visit, I hear people bitching about the occasional picture problems they have (DBS uses a lot of compression to get everything on the bird, and this can cause some occasional idiosyncracies in picture quality). Or moaning because there aren't enough HDTV channels on certain satellites. Please...

In 1968, I was swearing at my kid brother for leaving my copy of the Beatles' white album on the turntable with the cover off where it could get dust in the grooves. So, shut up about what you can't get on satellite yet. At the rate we're going, you'll have your own show on the bird before you know it.

Oh, yeah, Date::Calc is friggin' awsome, too. Thank you, Steffan. You rock.

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