Archive for July 19th, 2011

There is a term in the Air Force known as the bio-line.  Psychologists started looking hard at this bio-line back in the 80’s. Basically flying a plane uses the left half of the brain, all the additional (military in this case) information is processed through the right brain.  During certain situations pilots were passing out in the cockpit during simulations.  If a pilot of a fighter jet passes out or becomes unresponsive the jet levels out.  Which is a bad thing because then the enemy can lock onto its target.  They figured out that there was so much information that the right brain was starting to encroach on the duties of the left brain which over stimulated the pilot who would then black out.  Oddly this only happened in simulations.  Only when the pilots were able to answer question anonymously did the truth come out.  When in flight pilots instinctively knew that they were being overwhelmed and would turn off all ‘non essential’ equipment and would fly into battle using their wits more than anything.  I understand that thankfully for the most part this issue has been resolved. But it does go to show that sometimes technology can be too much.

There is a large cable company that deals with cutting edge equipment in the communications field.  There is a constant stream of new products hitting the market and ending up in our homes.  The problem is the future really is now.  This stuff is coming out so fast and furious it even leaves the installers confused at times.  Not all that long ago a TV had two ports, one for the plug so that it plugs into the wall and another for the cable that went from the wall to the back of the TV.  Then came the cable box which was still pretty simple, cable goes from the wall, to the cable box, and from the cable box to the TV.  Now there are a multitude of cable boxes, just for standard digital TV itself, not that pesky analogue stuff of 8 years ago.  We also have a multitude of HD boxes and let’s not forget about HDDVR’s. There are boxes that have HDMI cords, others have component cables.  There are host boxes where you can have one DVR and watch that DVR from the ‘slave’ boxes which can be in other rooms in the house.  Some cable boxes are the size of two decks of cards, others are as large as an old record player, (remember record players?).  Basically there is a lot of equipment that technicians have to deal with.

The following conversation took place between a technician which installs this type of equipment and a co-worker who works behind the scenes with the different types of equipment.  In no way is this conversation a reflection on either of the two parties, it is however, a reflection on how fast things are changing in the field.

Technician: “I’m bringing these cable boxes back to you because the DVR portion of the box is either shut off or broken”

Co-worker:  “The cable box in your hand?  That’s the one that you are having DVR problems with?”

Tech: “Yes, and I have three more that I tried and they are all having the same problem.”

Co-worker: “Well the problem is that this particular box is not a DVR it is a straight HD box.”

Tech: “No it is an HD DVR combo box”

Co-Worker: “No I’m telling you this is a straight HD box.  There is another box that looks just like this one which is an HD DVR, but this particular box is HD only.”

Technician flips over the back exposing the bottom of the box and points at the cooling fan. “See there is the fan so it is a DVR.”

Co-Worker: “Cooling fan or not this is an HD box. I can tell because this one says DCH3200 and I know that the DCH3200 is an HD box.  The DCH3416 which looks exactly like a DCH3200 except that it says DCH3416 is the DVR.  The other way I can tell you is if you look inside the box, between the air vents you can see there is no hard drive.  If there is no hard drive it cannot record and if you can’t record it is not a DVR”

At this point another technician enters the conversation.  “You can tell by weight” he says, “This box is light in comparison to a DVR and that is because the hard drive is heavy, no question this is an HD box.”

Original technician realizes his mistake and is starting to chuckle.  “Okay” he says, “It’s an HD box but I don’t like it anymore, can I still give it back and get some DVR’s?”

Co-Worker goes and gets the tech some DVR’s which are completely different, different colour, different dimensions, different look figuring it would be easier for the tech to spot the difference amongst all the other pieces of equipment on the truck.

Tech: “This is an HD DVR?”

Co-worker: “Yes”

Tech: “How do you know for sure?”

“Because it says right on the front DCX3400”

“Wouldn’t it be easier if it said DCX3400 DVR”

“Yes, yes it would.  But then we wouldn’t get to talk nearly as much.”

“Well there is that.”

“Plus this box is a little heavier, it does have a cooling fan, and if you hold it at an angle and look through the grating you can see the hard drive”

“I’m getting to old for this.”

“I hear you brother, but now we have the difficult task of finding the correct power cord that powers this puppy!”

Technician looks like he wants to cry as they wander over to the 5 shelves of power cords

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