Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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Thinking outside the (Digital Converter) box

Tom Carr - February 23rd, 2009
Thinking outside the (Digital Converter) box
Tom Carr 2/23/09


We have four extra months now to buy those converter boxes being touted by the horizontally scrolling reminders on our TV screens. The deadline was supposed to be this week. Congress delayed it to June 12, as one in 20 homes has yet to buy the electronic box that will transform an analog set into a digital television.
Locally, viewers will be able to procrastinate no matter which programs they like. The station in the designated Traverse City/Cadillac market have all opted to wait until the new deadline to go completely digital, though about 500 stations throughout the country stopped analog transmission on or around Feb. 17, the first deadline.
The word analog itself almost conjures images of dust-covered vacuum tubes. It’s the way our parents and grandparents watched “The Honeymooners.” Still, it’s always been there, free and through the airwaves, even though the majority of people have cable or satellite these days.
Yet 17.3 percent of homes in the Traverse City/Cadillac TV market still get their viewing without a paid subscription. That’s above the national average of 11 percent, says Nielsen Media research.

DISCONNECTED?
So will it leave a bunch of viewers, particularly rural ones, disconnected if they don’t get that box? Or is it just a reminder that we need to keep getting the gadgets if we want to stay connected?
People have so far redeemed 22.6 million of the $40 coupons sent out by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to help with the cost of the devices that start at around $50.
Nielsen says 5.1 percent of the country is still unprepared this month.
Gail Roberts of Kingsley is one of them. She has what her father jokingly calls “Amish TV,” an analog set that receives two stations reliably. That’s plenty to bring in the school closings she wants to hear in the morning. The family has dial-up Internet, because they can still get it for $10 a month, so they don’t spend a lot of time surfing.
She doesn’t know what the future holds for her preferred sources of news – the daily newspaper and National Public Radio – particularly with the fact that the state’s two largest newspapers plan to cease seven-day delivery.
Roberts has the coupon for the converter box, but hasn’t felt compelled to buy it yet and doesn’t know if she will any time soon.
“The first time I take the kids out to get on the bus and it doesn’t arrive, then I’ll probably get a faster Internet connection,” she said.

UNPREPARED
People I’ve chatted with have said they’re concerned that the changes will leave older people in the lurch.
Yet Nielsen reports that the homes headed by someone under 35 are less prepared (8.6 percent unready) than those in the 55-and-over group (3.2 percent).
The younger group may have less disposable income than the older group, said Anne Elliot, a Nielsen spokeswoman. They can only speculate, since asking people’s reasons for their viewing habits might influence their behavior, she said.
“They may also be relying on the Internet more,” she added. “They might even be watching their favorite shows on network Web sites or services like Hulu.”
Those are educated guesses. Nielsen doesn’t ask people’s reasons, since that might influence their behavior, Elliot said.
Retirees who frequent the Traverse City Senior Center haven’t been talking much about it at all, director Lori Wells said.
“Most of them have satellite or cable,” she said.

Tom Carr is a freelance writer who uses a converter box.

 
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