This blog is my attempt to reconnect with the world of chemistry. I have a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry and make a living doing research for a large company in Michigan. As times have changed, that company has changed its focus and I no longer have as much chance to do the basic, fundamental research which I most enjoy. Through this blog, I am hoping to recapture the magic which I felt during my graduate (and undergraduate) days in college. Expect topics on chemistry and alchemy along with some non-chemistry related items which I think might be interesting.

"The chymists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasure among smoke and vapour, soot and flame, poisons and poverty; yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly that may I die if I would change places with the Persian King."

Johann Joachim Becher (phlogistonist)
Acta Laboratorii Chymica Monacensis, seu Physica Subterranea, (1669).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Are You Ready for the Digital Transition?

As most of you should know by now, the U.S. government mandated switch to digital television transmissions will occur tomorrow (Friday) at midnight. I’ll be stopping by the Comcast office on my way home tonight, picking up an extra converter box or two for our secondary TVs. We already have one for the main television. All the polls indicate there is still a lot of confusion out there about what needs to be done to prepare for the transition, and while I was initially amused by all this confusion, I have since learned just how easily it can be to get it wrong. I know, because I also got it wrong at first thanks, in part, to some badly worded announcements put out by Comcast.

Several months ago, Comcast was telling everyone (in this area at least) that if you were a subscriber with them, you would still receive all the same analog channels without being required to do anything.. We wouldn’t even notice the transition, they said. About a month and a half ago, the announcements changed. Only the over-the-air based analog channels would remain untouched. All the other analog channels, History Channel, Nickelodeon, Disney, Animal Planet, etc. (yes, we have kids) would disappear, reappearing in a digital format which would require a converter box to access. Although these channels are also analog based, at least by the time they arrive at our house, Comcast no longer refers to them as analog channels. That distinction is now reserved for over-the-air channels. Analog channels which do not originate from local broadcasting stations are now referred to as cable channels, a point which was missed by the people writing the earlier announcements.

At least the extra DTV boxes are free for a year.