Feed the (HD) Beast

David Pogue at the New York Times, quoting from his surprise encounter with a rare non-clueless Best Buy employee:

Q: Is there a lot of consumer confusion about HDTV?

A: Oh, man, you have no idea. People come in here absolutely clueless. Or furious, because they bought an HDTV set, got it home, and discovered that the picture doesn’t look anything like it did here in the store. Because they don’t realize they need a high-def *signal* to feed that set. For example, they need to replace their cable boxes with digital ones, or put a high-def antenna on the roof.

I admit that we fell into something like this trap when going HD a few months ago. We knew we would need to feed it HD signal for best results, but weren’t prepared for how much worse traditional signal would look. But apparently not everyone notices. Or who notice but don’t care:

[D.P. adds: According to a study by the Leichtman Research Group, 50 percent of HDTV owners aren’t actually watching any high-def shows on them… but 25 percent of them *think* they are.]


Music: Nellie McKay :: Testify

Your Average Stud

Studfinder Veteran’s day… us gubmint employees got the day off. Felt more poignant than usual since Amy and I have been working our way through The War… slowly. Painful and fascinating to watch, learning so much.

Hung a 70-lb. TV on a 50-lb. wall-bracket today, finally eliminating the hideous shiny plastic stand it came on and getting it 12″ farther back from the couch. For a weight like this, hitting the studs was of paramount importance, couldn’t risk missing. Unfortunately, thick lathe walls and multiple repair jobs over time* resulted in getting lots of false readings from the electronic stud finder. For a while there it seemed like chaos, and I was beggining to consider fishing for it, though I didn’t relish the thought of having to patch it up later.

Each time I got a reading for the edge of a stud, I made a mark on the wall. After a while, I had about 40 tiny Xs dotting the LR wall, and noticed a pattern starting to emerge. While no single mark was reliable, in the aggregate I was starting to see implied vertical lines on either side of a 2″ space.

This got me thinking… when placing a geocache, it’s really important to publish accurate coordinates. But marking a single waypoint is inaccurate by definition, since the satellites and the earth are constantly shifting in relation to one another. The first cache we placed, I did the “bee” dance, walking out 30′ and returning repeatedly, marking the spot again and again, then finally plunking down a waypoint in the middle of the cluster to represent the average reading. That worked OK, but later discovered there was an “average waypoint” feature built into the GPSr – set it down in one spot and let the earth move while it takes a reading every few seconds. Let it do that for 200 or so readings, hit Stop, and you get a dynamite average. Conclusion: The world needs an electronic stud finder that does automatic averaging. Just drag the finder randomly around on the wall for a few minutes and let it report well-averaged stud edges.

Aside: Got my stitches out today – hand’s doing well, but will probably have a nice Frankenstein jag in it for life. At least it’s fully mobile again.

* Have I mentioned that when doing wall repair recently (earthquake cracks), I discovered that the living room had once been painted top to bottom with gold glitter paint? I love trying to imagine what the rest of the room must have looked like at whatever point in history that might have been.

Music: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins :: I Love Paris