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Published: Saturday, 11/1/2008

Change to digital TV tunes viewer in to problems

Don't tell me I have to sign up for classes to learn how to operate a television. I have a better question. What is digital anyway? Is it absolutely necessary in 2008 to be bombarded with digital to survive in the world of electronics?

Don't bother to answer. I probably wouldn't understand the explanation anyway.

The only reason I am working at the computer on Saturday night at 9 o'clock is that I can't turn on the TV to learn where the dueling senators are tonight and what they are saying and have said all day. And also what they and Sarah Palin are wearing. Like many Americans, I am growing weary of the election hoopla, but I also get frustrated if I can't keep track of both teams. I have their pictures plastered on the refrigerator. So far I haven't talked to the photos, or at least I don't think I have.

So what happened at this peaceful place on Posey Lake, where the geese swim in the still water and we burn a pile of leaves when we are in the mood, that sent me to the computer away from buttered popcorn and a cold beer in front of the TV?

Comcast went digital five days ago. That's what happened, and I have been in a dither ever since.

First, there is the issue of obtaining a black box for each of the television sets. Fortunately I only have two. But, where to go to get the boxes? A call to Comcast said I would have to drive to Lansing, which of course sent my Irish temper into a fast dance.

Not believing the telephone person knew what she was talking about, I checked further and learned that a temporary office had been opened at the Adrian mall. But where? The fifth person asked had a vague idea. At 3:30 in the afternoon a sign on the temporary office door said it was closed for lunch until

4:10 p.m.

The person issuing the boxes assured me it was a snap to install them. I didn't believe that either and called Mr. Ed, who is one of those guys who can fix anything and had already installed his TV box.

That brings us to Saturday night, a bowl of buttered popcorn, and the beer. Oh, yes, add Digby and the cats to my picturesque relaxed farmhouse setting that fell to pieces like a kaleidoscope.

The directions were followed precisely on page 8, which Mr. Ed had thoughtfully left open in the digital installation manual. It's interesting how the most important words in the instructions are the smallest type and have to be held under a lamp. Examples are "Press Cable" and "Press Power," which are almost illegible.

Then I got to the sentence that said to call a toll-free number to activate your Digital Receiver. After a few commercials the call was connected to a representative in the Philippines. Somehow my prior button-pushing had turned on the digital receiver light. That was bad. All the way from the Philippines the representative turned it off and explained that it would take 45 minutes for the receiver to download before I could try again.

Well, it's 10 o'clock. The 45-minute wait is over. The popcorn is cold. The beer is warm. But, the election news is always hot, and so is this national conversion to digital TV. Wish me luck, and I wish you the same.



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