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Mary Robinson is all about real-world information on the switch to digital television signals. The success of the DTV switch will depend on regular folks understanding new technology and getting it running in their homes. Ms. Robinson is weighing in on those nitty-gritty details, sharing her enthusiasm for TV-signal technology with those who are less technically inclined. She’s developed an expertise through years of hands-on experimentation, pulling in signals from the rooftop of her Texas home. Now she’s a resource for consumers struggling with the digital switch. We discovered Mary right here on TVWeek.com, where she reliably dispensed information in the comments section of this story, First Digital TV Converter Box Wins Government Approval about the digital switch. Let’s keep the conversation rolling!

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Digital Transition Answers



DTV Transition Needs Disaster Relief

September 15, 2008 1:36 PM

I am writing this column in Tyler, Texas, as I have once again had to run from an approaching hurricane. My mom and dad, daughter, granddaughter and I (four generations of us) are here and waiting to see what kind of condition our area is in after being slammed by Hurricane Ike.

We also are wondering how long it will be before we can go home. It may be a week from now or a month—we just don't know.

The good news for us is that the hurricane levies held up against a nearly 13-foot tidal surge. The bad news is that others were not so lucky, and all four of the oil refineries in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area are shut down until the damage can be addressed and they are able to start up again. That affects us all.

Fortunately I didn't need my battery-powered TV this time, because in my haste to get packed, get the cats in carriers and load the car, I forgot to bring it. Can you believe that? But it was close. Tyler was just far enough. Just south of us in Lufkin, many are still without power tonight, so I wonder how many of them are depending on their battery-powered televisions this evening.

As I stated in one of my earlier columns, I think I have found a viable solution to that dilemma for after the transition to digital: a converter box that can be run on a battery pack that is manufactured by Winegard.

But the transition to digital needs to be monitored by those with the power to either educate the public on reception solutions for different causes of interference, as poster EmmGee-Ohio has suggested in some of the posts, or have the ability to mandate the use of new technology to address the reception problems of rural, long-distance viewers or those in urban areas that are the victims of landlords or home owner associations that put obstacles in the way of those that have the right to erect antennas to overcome multi-path or blocked signals.

Two and a half million residents of the state of Texas tonight have no power tonight, and I would bet thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, are getting information from battery- or crank-powered televisions they had in their emergency kits. That will not be an option come next hurricane season, so I hope we get it right. Remember, it could be you dealing with a disaster next time.

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Comments (3)

EmmGee-Ohio:

Thanks for listening and bringing this to light.

I know I have tried to get the word out on this in various ways. From here to youtube, keywords "DTV issues" and "Bad DTV reception". Those will assist in proving this point.

The problem is, few are actually listening to someone who is proving DTV needs some slight changes.

I am glad you used my facts. Keep up the WHOLE educating. Half educating isn't really educating, at all. That's my catch phrase.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi EmmGee-Ohio,
As you know, this has been my soapbox for some time, and I assure you I will keep trying to spread the work until I get this issue the attention it deserves.

EmmGee-Ohio:

Strange thing, someone at work said to me... "nobody cares" and that I was on a mission"... just wait, They'll know I was right!

This really isn't about me, but other people it can help. Someone came up to me and mentioned not everyone can afford cable too.

For god's sakes., I hear that Buckeye CableSystem has local DTV issues too, according to a few people, one of WTVG-TV's news crew, or a certain female, late night , young reporter (from 7-14-08).

By the way, differing converter/STB boxes is of no help. Same result on DTV stations as with the RCA DRC8335, just minus the analogs.

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