Friday, November 2, 2012

The Black Box and George Orwell

About 4 years ago Sue and I disconnected from cable TV; our remotes were almost worn out from constant clicking in search of something worthwhile to watch. Think about it; you sit down in front of the television, remote in hand, confident that there is something of interest on at least one of the 150 channels available to you. So, you start clicking away; like a kid at the beach, searching for that one perfect seashell; only to find that they are all unsatisfactory in one way or the other. So, you are left empty handed.

Now I don’t know about you, but we have a TV that is as flat as Twiggy was in 1967; and at the same time; high tech. In other words this means that I have a flat screen 50” television that asks me to “Please Be Patient” when I turn it on, as well as pauses while it locks onto the state of the art digital signal which is supposed to make me feel like I am part of the show. But, with each click taking about 30 seconds to produce an image on the screen, I can click through all 150 stations at the rate of one every 30 seconds, or two per minute. Divide the 150 channels by 2 per minute and that means it takes 75 minutes to cycle through them all, unless I find something that interests me. And to accomplish this feat, I need to add about 30 seconds to each station I land on while ascertaining whether or not I want to remain there. So that makes a total of I minute per station, divided by none, which equals 2 and a half hours to check out all the stations. Phew!! Sounds like work to me.
So, we cut the cable. It was like cutting an umbilical cord, in some ways giving us a bit more leisure time in our leisure time. Of course we had to get one of those “converter” boxes which the government was originally supplying to everyone for free with a voucher. This kind of had me scratching my head a bit, as the government had never before concerned itself with the change from Hi-Fi to stereo; or even helped us out with the switch from vinyl recordings to 8 tracks to cassettes to CD’s and MP3 players. I had to ask myself, “Why the deadline to convert all the TV’s? And why does my government want to give me something that I didn’t need until they made it necessary?” These are two valid questions.

I read a lot, so I always go back in my mind to something I may have read which applies to the situation at hand. It didn’t take me too long to figure it out. The box is a two way system, allowing me to intercept what is broadcast, but also a camera and audio device for Big Brother to look into my living room. Remember George Orwell’s “1984”? Kind of like that, only with better programs.
I know, you’re laughing at me. But all the same, each time I pass the box, I wave and say hello.

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