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Sentinel Butte, North Dakota

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Information technology in our little corner of the world

This afternoon as I was walking up from the barn this, I looked up and  saw our TV antenna. It made me think of technology and how it affects our life out here in our little corner of the world. For many years, rural people continued to use a antenna to be able to watch tv long after those in town had cable tv. I remember my grandparents had a rotor which turned the antenna to receive the differnt channels or improve the reception. I thought that was so cool!
Then, along came satellite dishes which let us receive programming from all over the country. We went from one or two channels to hundreds to chose from! Programs of all sorts: news, sports, educational programming, movies, sit coms, kids' shows, livestock sales. You name it and  it is there 24-7. From the giant satellite dishes to the ones that are now not much smaller than a basketball, they expanded our world exponentially. This allowed for local news and weather which is as important as the world view, if not more important at times. Some metropolitan areas do offer local programing but not many.  To get the "Big Three" networks if not available on the dish in your area, a  waiver you can not receive them via antenna plus an extra monthly fee brings them to you.
Of course, things always seem to be made more difficult for some reason when ideas come out of Washington, DC. The powers that be in communications decreed that all tv signals would go from analog to digital. This means that without a special tv or box for your antenna you can not receive your local channels if they are not availalbe via satellite in your area. What brilliance!! Not!
When the internet arrived in our lives, a dial-up connection thru the phone line was what we had. When we didn't know any different, it was ok. We did wish there was a faster method though! People who lived in town and a very few lucky people had DSL connections and we wished we did.   I use my computer for photographs and sending them or posting them via dial-up was horribly slow! Access to satellite internet connections came next and were much faster than dial-up, plus you could use your phone while on the computer! As with satellite tv however, the signal is affected by the weather, but that is a minor inconvience for the most part. Late last spring we found out that our local phone company was laying fiber optic cable which meant better phone lines and.....a high speed internet connection.
So looking at our house, you can see evidence of satellite tv, satellite internet (although no longer used since we have DSL) and our digital tv antenea. We get news and entertainment via the tv and the computer. Information of all sorts constantly at our finger tips out here in our little corner of  the world.

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