September 22, 2009

Comcast and the Digital Thingy.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:20 pm

I don’t know if it’s a nationwide thing, but around here Comcast has decided to drop its analog signal. What that means is that if you have a TV already hooked up to digital service (as is the one in the room with Mr. Recliner), you’re cool for that TV. However, if you have other Comcast cable TVs, which are not hooked up to a digital box, you will lose a shitload of stations. For those TVs, one needs the digital thingy, available from Comcast.

Comcast has sent letters and made robo-calls reminding users that they may well need one or more digital thingies. As an additional “reminder,” certain stations began to disappear over the last few days. I finally got off my arse and ordered two digital thingies. They arrived the other day, and being lazy and a techno-chicken, I let them sit in the box for a few days, thinking that maybe there will be nuclear strike or something and I won’t have to deal with them. However, tonight, Fox News dropped off the scope on the kitchen TV, and it was time for action.

As usual, I broke out in a sweat at the thought of screwing around with wires and televisions, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. So, I followed all the setup directions and then logged into the website to activate the thingies. Well, it worked, but knowing how I fare with things techno, I thought, “Yo, this was way too easy.”

Of course, I was right.

Everything was cool with the TV in the kitchen until I tried to use the new remote that came with the thingy to turn the TV off. No dice. What now? Leave the TV on forever? Rather than risk a cardiovascular accident, I turned the TV off with the old remote, and I resolved to deal with it tomorrow. I had enough of coaxial cables, and checking for blinking lights on remotes for the night.


It seems the upstairs TV when squirrely when Mrs. Parkway tried to watch a DVD. Mind you, this is a DVD that only plays discs; it doesn’t record anything, so the setup instructions for a TV/VCR that came with the thingy did not apply (there is no coaxial input on the DVD player). After about 45 minutes of pushing various buttons on two remotes, it seems that the problem was not with the digital thingy, but rather the series of button pushes one has to do to turn on the DVD player without screwing up the TV.

This “easy setup” gobbled up a few hours in the shank of the evening.

So, at the end of the day and my latest bout with electronic stuff, here are my thoughts. The digital thingy is yet another damned widget, it occupies yet another socket, it has left us with a bunch of messy wires to contend, a remote that still has to be fiddled with, and a bizarre series of button pushes in order to watch a DVD. What we get in return are a handful of additional program offerings, none of which interest me in the least.

I suppose I should stop bitching, because I’m old enough to remember sitting real close to the ten-inch black and white with rabbit ears sitting atop the box (usually with balled up tinfoil on the end of each “ear” for enhanced reception) and having to change the channels (chunk, chunk, chunk) with a pair of pliers, all to watch Howdy Doody.


  1. I have Cablevision, and they did the same thing with channel availability. There are about 10 channels that are only viewable through the box. My wife is must upset about AMC, since she’s a big fan of “Army Wives”.

    Comment by roberto — September 22, 2009 @ 11:10 pm

  2. Quit yer whinin’. Your government loves you and only wants to help. Embrace the benevolence of our government and their blessed coming of digital age.
    I wonder if El Uno has The Dish at the White House?

    Comment by RobbieRob — September 23, 2009 @ 10:03 am

  3. I remember the thrilling days of yesteryear when we had 13 channel`s with but 4 stations , 3 of which were only receivable intermittently. To say programming quality was good was a stretch but it beat “dancing with the stars”. Hell! the test pattern beat “dancing with the stars”.
    Anyway I have Satellite TV so all my sets are compatible with the High Definition format but the mandated upgrade does not improve the offerings one bit.As for me when the offering`s are really dreadful & I am tired of watching bugs with feeler`s screw …..I read a book!

    Comment by dudley1 — September 23, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  4. Jimbo, don’t repeat this out loud or ‘they’ might come looking for me… I don’t have cable. Have not had cable for more than five years (I’ve actually lost count how long.) My tv gets used for watching movies with the dvd player. I am not sorry.

    Comment by Jean — September 23, 2009 @ 3:19 pm

  5. so far so good with Bright House Cable..but I have two digital TVs and probably will replace the other two this winter with some Wally World specials that are digital

    Comment by GUYK — September 23, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

  6. They were doing something like that here last year so I just said ‘fuck it’ and got sattelite.

    Comment by Laura — September 23, 2009 @ 7:46 pm

  7. I’m down with Jean. I chucked the dish six years ago, and am getting my digital signal via rabbit ears going through a coverter box to my analog TV. I get more channels than I had before…free. I only watch about 1 hour of TV a week, if that.

    BTW, I’m guessing the remote that comes with your box may be a “learning” remote, and there is possibly a code or a series of button pushes to guess the code that is compatible with your TV. Then you could use the same remote to turn the TV on/off and change the channel. Look in your instruction booklet. If you can’t figure it out, bring it to Eric’s. I’ll take a look.

    Comment by Jerry in Indiana — September 23, 2009 @ 11:17 pm

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