February 2009


Another Hallmark Moment!

Some cynics say that Valentine's Day is a holiday created for the retail industry, to stimulate sales during the long stretch between Christmas and Easter. Of course, we've added MLK Day, President's Day and St. Patrick's Day, but none of them represent a blockbuster excuse to drive shoppers into the stores.

I could be one of those cynics except for one important fact; It doesn't have to cost money to show someone you love them! So you can look at it as another excuse for a sale, or you can look at it as a reminder to take a moment to appreciate those who are special in your life.

.....I'm voting for "Plan B"!

Confused about DTV Yet?

OK, so the switch to all-digital TV isn't going to happen for another four months. Instead of Feb. 17th, it'll now happen on June 12th. At least, that's the latest word from Congress. So what the heck is this all about?

It's about as confusing a mess as any governmental project could be!

Analog frequencies now used by TV stations are needed to expand emergency services networks and commercial wireless carriers. Going digital will free airways for these expansions. But...
...Millions of Americans still get TV from analog UHF and VHF signals, through antennas, and will not be able to get them after stations start broadcasting digital signals. Oh, and did you know that rabbit ears will probably not work at all for receiving digital TV, in most cases? Even with a converter. Not sensitive enough. It'll take an outside antenna to do the job.

...Congress decided to distribute $40 coupons toward the purchase of a digital converter box to those who need them, but did so before there was much to choose from on the market (last Spring.) So, many stashed their coupons away and either forgot or lost them! When boxes finally became available (last summer) Congress refused to extend the expiration date of the original coupons.

The result? 47 million coupons mailed out, 21.7 million redeemed (less than half) , 14 million expired, over 11 million unaccounted for, more than 3 million people still on a waiting list for coupons, and as many as 184,000 more requests are received PER DAY!Oh yeah, and the NTIA (National Telecommunications Information Agency) has run out of funding for the coupon program and needs between $250 - $330 million more!

Uh-huh... Don't we all!


MrVO Goes To
Career Day!

I agreed to take part in Career Day at the middle school where Irene teaches. It was a blast!!

I set up a make-shift recording studio in the classroom and, as the class found their seats, I recorded a few seconds of the hubbub. After being introduced and going through a brief description of what I do, I directed them through a series of group recordings... "Hoorays" and "Boos" ( they laughed when I said I needed some "boos")... and showed them some simple editing tricks on the computer. I then added announcer tracks I had recorded earlier and played the resulting audio skit for them.

I think I got one message through, loud and clear; No matter what career you choose, make sure it's something you absolutely LOVE doing! Because there will be times when that love of your job will be the only thing that keeps you going.


I've Been Attacked!!

...By a computer virus, worm, trojan horse, whatever! And I hate it!

I've always been a Mac user and have never had to deal with hackers, viruses, etc. because they just aren't a problem with Macs and I never had to worry about it. Until I started using a PC laptop for remote recording while travelling.

My screen filled with official-looking alerts telling me to download this anti-virus program to avoid disaster! Turns out that IT was the virus! My PC became an electric doorstop.

I've managed to get it running again, but spent days and dollars doing it. In the process I've learned a lot about Windows... mostly that it is chockablock full of problems! Like the fact that Windows is the primary target for virtually every hacker with a keyboard!

Yessir, I love my Mac!


The Elliptical Saga Continues

In our last episode (the Jan09 Newsletter), we left our immense, 400+ pound crate with our new ProForm Space Saver Elliptical exerciser at the bottom of the stairs.

Since then, practicality won the day and it was assembled on the spot and parked in the room, directly across from the stairs. The assembly process was an exercise in itself! Instructions stated, "Do no destroy the shipping container as all returns must be sent back in their original boxes." Right! It's twice my weight, and held together with several dozen heavy brass staples.

I hacked at it with a utility knife, exposing what looked like a failed oragami project on steroids, with pieces of metal and plastic barely visible deep inside. More hacking.

Finally, after several hours and two split knuckles, I had the beast fully assembled and looking perfect... just like the sales picture.

The only part I didn't have to assemble was housing that contains the internal belts, wheels, weights and gizmos that make it go. Naturally, the only part that didn't work was that one! If you could get it to move at all it made a horrible, metalic screeching sound.

Warranty? Well, yeah, but you had to pay to get a service repairman to come to the house. Or ship it back (in the original box.) Or pay a lot for an extended service policy that covered everything plus the house-call.

Bought the policy, got a repairman to the house (he knew what was wrong before he got there..."That piece breaks on all of 'em!") and ordered the parts needed. The parts arrived a couple weeks later, but the repairman hasn't gotten the company's authortization to make the repairs yet! "I'll give you a call when it comes in..."

Bottom line: We've spent a whole lot of money and waited nearly two months for it first to arrive and then to actually work, and so far all we've gotten is a lot of frustration and a feeling that ProForm doesn't give a damn about anything once they've got your order. Buyer, beware!!

PS...They've discontinued this item.

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