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Larry the Luddite from Ludditeland.... - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Larry the Luddite from Ludditeland....
That's-a me!  On the sled being dragged kicking and screaming into the early 21st century.

We took another shot this weekend at beginning the process of upgrading our audio-video universe.  It is currently stuck somewhere between 1985 and mayyybe 2010. Here's an annotated look at what we've got rockin' our world these days:

So whatta we got?

(A) At least it's a flat-screen TV. Mid-oughts, pre-digital (and we never bothered to get the free converter box during the 20 minutes the FCC was giving out coupons for those), decent but non-HD picture, fair to poor sound, which is why there are cables running out of it in eight different directions to redirect said sound to other places.  Most of them are RCA connectors (never a good sign when the namesake of your technology doesn't exist anymore), but there's also one "S-video" port, a technology dating by that name to the year of our wedding but used in concept on the Commodore 64; some component ports including a green plug I've never had cables for; and that lovely blue wire on Item E's near left. That's a VGA cable, the same basic connector that's been turning bytes into pixels on video display screens all the way back to bigass cathode-ray 80s desktops. We only have one in-use computer in the house with such a port, so the other laptops connect to this TV through the VGA port via an HDMI adapter (not shown) which feeds video of Netflixes and such into it.  But not the streaming audio; that goes via a headphone jack and a red-white RCA pair into....

(B) THE RACK!  This one likely dates to the late 90s.  Its only usable components are a three-CD changer on top that works when it feels like it, and an FM tuner we use a few times a week mainly for Jazz.FM. Oh, and its audio-in ports just above F, which are feeding the audio signal from....

(C) the primary DVD player.  The most recent addition to the fold, perhaps three or so years ago; it replaced one bought at Circuit City, which itself replaced a recently-bought and slightly cheaper one which shat the bed after a few weeks and which they refused to honor purchase protection on until I threatened to sic the Attorney General on them.  Given what's become of them (long-ago bankruptcy) and of the attorney general at the time (Eliot Spitzer), you can tell what kind of luck we have with this stuff.  It's a mostly functional unit for DVD playback and recording off the TV, and even allows the playing of CDs (Eleanor finds it more reliable than the old rack these days) and, in a pinch, connections to the even older beast on the floor at G.

There's also (D), the secondary DVD player.  Acquired as a generous gift from an LJ friend once known as Targaff and still known round Facebook as Graham, its primary advantage is that it's region-free.  It can also fill in if we're recording off another component and want to watch a different film at the same time.

(E) is a frog.  He doesn't contribute much to the AV experience except for an occasional "hi-ho."

That gets us to (F), which is soon to be gotten outta here. The dreaded cable box, draining somewhere around $90 a month of our Spectrum bill (hard to tell how much because the full price is bundled, but they offer higher-speed internet for $30 a month) and which we maybe use five hours a month when the Mets aren't on.

Not to be outdone, (G) is a fully-working VCR. Be kind, rewind.  It gets connected (through, what else, RCA cables) maybe twice a year when we get a hankering for an old VHS film we never transferred to disk (mainly because the DVD-player manufacturers totally caved and built in Macrovision protection into their machines when the codes serve no other purpose than to prevent the copying of, now, almost entirely 20-plus-year old tapes).

And (H), left center and right, is the sound from THE RACK!  Eleanor moved them out so they'll give better sound in the dining room where she does most of her drawing.

Not included: the four universally incompatible remotes (no, wait, five- six if you count the original DVD remote I dropped in the fish tank which still works if you don't mind cycling through the menus in only one direction); the headphone-to-RCA-port connector that allows our phones to get in on the fun; or the cat who is usually planted atop either (B) or (F).

None of this directly allows the two most modern technologies: Blu-rays or streaming.  The latter, we've managed to fudge by connecting our laptops.  I took a shot at a similar fudge a year or so ago, buying an external Blu-Ray drive for my then-laptop, only to discover that the drive came with no software to play such disks, that VLC and others didn't support them, and most software choices would have doubled the cost of the drive.  Meh, I'll wait until I can just buy a real Blu-ray player.  Finally, with so many films putting All The Things just on their Blu-ray versions, and DVDs constantly pimping how whiz-bang great they are, I finally went out yesterday to bring one home- and found one that would fit nicely into the system, probably replacing (D), for about 80 bucks.

Asterisk asterisk asterisk.


I give Louis credit. He's the Best Buy guy who walked the Luddite through the section and actually pointed to a  slightly cheaper unit than a wireless one I gravitated toward. Ah, but would it work with what we had?  It would not.  First, its only included cord was for power, so an HDMI cable would be needed. Thirty bucks.  That might, might work getting the HDMI signal into the current TV through the VGA port,  but only the video.  No RCA or S-video outputs on the new player, so we'd need another adapter (another 40) just to translate the audio, and an adapter-adapter to funnel it into the red and white plugs (another 50). All of this to connect to a set we're gonna get rid of in days or weeks anyway? No. 

Brilliant Idea then hit me.  I remembered the kids using their Playstation at our home which connected to our TV with both audio and video- and I remembered them telling me that even older-generation Playstation 3 models played BluRays.  Louis agreed this could work, and even pointed me to the Game Stop in the same strip plaza which might have one. Which they did! A buck twenty for a refurbished one, but with everything I'd need to connect to the current TV monitor!

I'm not kidding about the Luddite part. My last tv-based video game was Pong. I am so not kidding.  But I figured out how to connect it, power it up, get User 1 going and got a menu.  Popped in Shape of Water, saw an icon for it on the PS display, hit the X on the controller (this is gonna be a bitch to use as the sixth, ur, seventh remote, I thought), and got this:

Did I not remember correctly? Apparently not. Probably the kids were using an older PS3- this piece, from 2011, puts this "feature, not a bug" entirely on the studios who wanted output limited to controllable hardware so people wouldn't go pirating their movies. (I am shocked, SHOCKED!, to think of anyone doing such a thing....) 

So the new plan is to accelerate the transition.  If I don't get home too stupid late from Rochester tomorrow,  after returning the PS3, I am going to pick out and pick up a current-generation television to take the place of (A), pick up the Blu-ray player and the one and hopefully only HDMI cable I will need to slot the player into (D), and then configure the TV for over-air reception and experiment with streaming things into it.  Then the cord can be cut and we will Get the (F) out.

This comes, of course, just as a put-off plumbing problem can no longer be put off; I took a shot tonight at getting at the inner workings of our shower faucet control; the handle is hopelessly fused to the control itself, but I discovered it had some more workable Phillips screws holding the entire dial to the wall- which I got out!  (And in doing so, accomplished nothing other than removing the dial from the wall, since the control itself is more or less permanently affixed to the incoming water sources, so, Hello, Plumber!) I also have more tilting to do with HP over the printercluster from the weekend- and have a butt-ton of paid work to do in between all these chores.

Come back next week, when we try removing the big melting block from the bottom of the icebox!


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weebleswobble From: weebleswobble Date: March 27th, 2018 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
older handles may need a handle puller to get removed.
good luck with the new electronics!
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