What’s a TV Antenna?

I haven’t had cable in more than a decade. That fact used to make me a fringe element- but now it means I’m hip.

High Tech TV Antenna

But we knew that all along.

A recent Wall Street Journal article chronicled this rise in over-the-air viewing (link below). Web-enabled devices are changing the way TV works. And people are realizing they don’t have to pay someone to make them a slave to their boob tube.

Favorite shows can now be watched when you want to watch them. Those willing to wait a little can enjoy their favorite series en masse instead of waiting a week to see the next episode. All while pocketing the cash usually budgeted for the monthly cable bill.

Eventually the real winners in all this will be local broadcasters. Assuming there are any left. Ironic when you consider just a few years ago the Internet was predicted to bury television as we know it.

Over the years regional and local content has been virtually annihilated by the propagation of satellite and cable TV. And most locals are doing their best to use the new digital channels as mini-cable networks, or at worst weather displays. The smart stations will stop trying to mimic Oprah and leverage digital channels for targeted, local content.

Over-the-Air TV Catches Second Wind, Aided by Web

Free Wi-Fi Booster

Well, almost free.

It takes a sheet of heavy paper, some aluminum foil and a few minutes of your time. So let’s just say insanely cheap.

Our wi-fi router is centrally located within our office. But the conference room, where the wi-fi is most often required, is separated from the router by multiple walls and lots of fluorescent light fixtures. A signal is obtainable- but the strength is meager at best.

Repositioning the router wasn’t really feasible so I started investigating wi-fi signal boosters and such. There are several options available ranging from add-on antennas to signal relays that attempt to extend the signal- supposedly up to 1 mile.

Then I came across this idea from Free Antennas.com. Using a simple cardboard parabola covered with foil it promised a 9 dBi gain. For free!

It took about 10 minutes to cut out a copy and place it on one of the antennas of our D-Link router. Just adding the one increased my signal in the conference room from Poor to Fair and 11 meg to 36 meg of bandwidth. I haven’t even got around to making one for the second antenna!

Of course I had to tweak their design just a smidge- see what you think…

Click the image to view the full-size version. Print it in heavy stock or acetate. You can even scale it up to increase the gain!

All you do is cut it out, cover the rectangle with foil then do the insert tab A into slots B. A little tape on the back side helps keep it all together. Poke holes through the X and slide it over your wi-fi antenna. For more details and specs check the page on Free Antennas.com.

 

eBay’s Top Shopped Crazes in 2011

Okay, apologies in advance for all the End Of Year lists and crap. But this one also fascinated me, partly because of the content and partly from the who-really-cares aspect.

Last week we considered the world as related to us by searches on Google. They even produced a video called Zeitgeist 2011. Well this week I want to share an excerpt from another press release looking back on 2011. This time from eBay:

SAN JOSE, Calif.— eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace and a leader in mobile commerce, today announced its third annual “Top Shopped” report1, ranking the pop culture moments and trends that captured shopper’s attention – and cash – in 2011. eBay analyzed sales data based on what people bought across categories on the marketplace to identify what piqued the public’s interest this year–from must-have tech and toys, to pop star divas and celebrity standouts.

The list is, as one might expect, a roll call of pop stars, gadgets and sports figures.  The one possible exception being Sade. But here’s the best part, and I quote:

“eBay sales are a direct indicator of what Americans are most fascinated by and uniquely reflects the cultural zeitgeist.”

So it appears that Google and eBay have settled it. The one conclusion that stands out above all others.

The 2012 word of the year is zeitgeist.

 

PS:

Top Three Most Expensive Cross-Category
Purchases on eBay Mobile:

  1. Motors | Mercedes-Benz : S-Class: $212,685
  2. Fashion | Hermes Blue Sapphire Ostrich Birkin Bag: $19,975
  3. Collectibles | 1933 Goudey – Babe Ruth #53 PSA Baseball Card: $19,500

Pole Saw Picture Taker

A few months ago I saw a guy photographing a parade with a camera mounted on a long pole. He was able to shoot video from about ten feet above the crowd and see far down the parade route. It was such a great idea I had to try making my own!

Elevating your camera is a great way to get a striking perspective. In fact there are several websites dedicated exclusively to pole or elevated photography.

For my attempt I used an old pole saw. It’s a two-section fiberglass pole that extends to about 15 feet. Using a PVC fitting I attached a Slik tripod ball head to end of the pole. A ball head is a simple device, but I sprung for the SBH-100 that includes a quick release plate.

A 1/4″ x 20 screw holds it to the fitting, and I used a small screw to cinch the whole mess to the end of the pole.

Here’s my first aerial photo I snapped in the back yard:

Altogether it took about 20 minutes and  required the $25 ball head, about $3 of hardware and the pole. So far I’ve only used it with my Olympus E-410, but I’m looking forward to using it for video soon!

Awesome Little Drive

I was in need of more storage for my video files and shopped around for a new external hard drive.  My current drive was a 500 gig Smart Drive that had been very reliable. I was planning on buying another one when I came across a great deal on the Western Digital My Passport Essential SE Ultra Portable.

This is a tiny unit that uses a 2.5″ laptop hard drive.My Passport 1 tb Drive It supports the faster USB 3.0 so it’s wicked fast (but works fine on the older 2.0 interface ). But the best part is there is no power cord. The special cable handles the data transfer AND power needs. No AC outlet needed!

I’ve been using it now for about a month and have not had one hiccup. Transfer rates are excellent and it has a whole terrabyte of room for me to fill up with raw video footage of silly things.

And isn’t that what life’s all about?