What do nerds do in their spare time?

Heya friend:

Okay, like you asked me to … I looked at my TV and tried to learn how to use it. Im always on the computer (which I know very nearly everything there is to know about) but it took me awhile just to figure out how to turn the fool TV-thing on. But read on.

I found my TV but when I turned it on, it didnt give me the Microsoft Windows(tm) boot logo screen like it should. I mean, it was really weird … first thing that happened was I got this black & white fuzzy screen saver with absolutely HORRIBLE sound (like pure white noise, man; Id have sworn at first the sound card in that puppy was shot! Either that, or the screensaver wasnt worth crap) and some big, ugly, neon-green 03 in the upper-right corner (I assumed that it was a volume-level display, which doesnt sound too high, but TRUST ME it needed to be turned down …).

I couldnt decide whether to hold my ears or panic so I tried doing both and started hitting some buttons on the bottom (by the way, what a wuss of a keyboard! sheesh! this thing is worse than the iMacs – and the stupid thing doesnt even come with a mouse or a REAL keyboard … I think the people who dreamed this up took the all-in-one concept a little too far).

Well anyways, I used the power button again (can you say, -BLOOP!- fade to black. Curious,I turned it back on. I found the arrow keys and started pressing them … the big neon-green number kept changing, and each time I did that, it started playing a new movie (never did figure out whether they were MPEGs, MOVs, or AVIs but they were pretty smooth so I assumed it probably had a Pentium II or better under there, plus better-than-decent graphic and sound cards).

Of course, the sound was always one volume with those keys: LOUD. So I guessed whatever that big green number was for, it sure wasnt anything to do with the volume (Later on, I found the +/- keys which controlled the volume and I thought -DOH!- thats not so frustrating after all …).

Anyways, I noticed that each time I returned to a certain number, it was playing the same movie (although with obvious passage of time). Then it hit me! This thing was actually multitasking FULL-SCREEN movies in real-time with POWERFUL ease!!!

Needless to say, my jaw fell open at that thought as my brain concentrated on one single word of awe -WOW!-. This must be some advanced, multi-threaded, resource-efficient operating system, with each big green number representing the current processing thread as it exists in the operating system kernel (I assumed the device must have been in demo power-user debug mode, precisely to impress the upper-crust elite technophile such as myself). By this time, you realize, I understood I was on to some serious stuff. I couldnt wait to find out more.

I played with some more buttons, and was sadly disappointed. All I could do was adjust the contrast, brightness, and picture settings (as an interesting aside, I could make the picture scroll up or down REALLY FAST … I cant imagine the computing horsepower required to pull THAT off … WOW! what a cool toy! dont know why they put that in there; maybe to prove they could … must be some sharp hardware and software designers that worked on this puppy after all!).

Also, I started to get tired of the movies … so I started channel-flipping (I remember hearing the words channel and flip so Ill use them, but I dont know why they call it that when its actually selecting an operating system thread in the kernel to view. On second thought, channel IS shorter but Im not sure where the name came from). I saw other movies and got tired of them. About that time, however, it looked like several movies played out their entire video contents and the TV-computer randomly picked another to start in its place. I was surprised, since I expected that thread to be closed out as each

Still, its actually quite nice overall. It never froze, gave me a BSOD, or crashed – always on, always smooth. I actually watched it until very late one night when all of the sudden, one of the channels (and eventually most of them) put up this off-colored squarish rainbow pattern with this awful high-pitched whine that just wouldnt stop.

Oh! That was even worse than the fuzzy screensaver! (I can see where they cut corners in software development – the desktop themes definitely need a little more work) So I finally went to bed and when I woke up, I looked the TV all over to see if it had a CD-ROM or floppy drive, so I could boot it off Linux or Windows to see if I could hack my way into the operating system … nothing! I guess they hard-wired the operating system in there, because I dont see HOW they could install it … what about upgrades? what if your registry gets fried (assuming its windows) or if root goes crazy and causes a permanent kernel panic (if its linux). I mean, sheesh, didnt these guys do any disaster-preparedness testing? I mean, its obviously a great operating system)!

Well, decided to take a break and then come back to the letter, so I did. I think Im becoming a TV convert. I mean, this stuff is cooler than Windows or even Linux. I mean its non-interactive alright, but you get used to it after awhile and its good to relax by. Besides being entertaining just to sit back and watch, I find this device intellectually stimulating as I contemplate the impressive technologies which must be involved. I even find it mildly addictive (and Im sure that its entertainment technology and quality will constantly improve with time).

Also, it has ZERO boot-up time (Ive seen several Pentium III systems eat its dust comparatively), never lags, crashes, or hangs up and I can actually even turn it off in the middle of a movie and not get that annoying Scandisk screen when I turn it back on like I do with my desktop system (talk about user-friendly! except theres no pause feature; maybe that will be implemented in a later model?) And its not linux-based apparently because I didnt see a console screen anywhere, or XWindows. Strange that theyre so secretive with the internals of this black-box device.

But what a device it is! Best of all, it is cheaper than any comparable desktop or notebook computing system I have EVER seen. I mean, you must know what you are talking about – I agree that these things are going to be serious competition to everyday computing as we currently know it. I predict this technology will change the world and the process has probably already begun. I for one will not be left behind!

Well anyways, I took my TV to Radio Shack and asked them to look at it. Strangely enough, everybody started staring at me just walking into the place – like I was lost or didnt belong there or something.


Anyways, I put the TV on the counter and asked one of the Radio Shack people to tell me how to get to the boot-up menu so I could load the command-prompt and do some registry backups (which must be done in DOS mode not in Windows mode, as you well know).

I swear, that man gave me a blank stare for a few seconds and then burst out laughing. I was being insulted! I got a little hot under the collar so I grabbed the TV with a Well, fine! remark and stormed out. I plan to write a letter to the editor of the paper to explain my situation and complain about the rude service at my local Radio Shack (surely their unprofessional behavior will be shamed in the public light) and ask publicly for anyone to help me with the TV setup or if there are any local TV users groups anywhere in the area and what time they have meetings. I mean, Im a smart guy, and I dont appreciate being a lot of good to offer in user groups like that at least, even if I cant help the bozos at Radio Shack.

Well, anyway, youre a friend, and you understand. I know you well enough to say you wont be laughing at me right now. Friends are compassionate and helpful, and I seem to be running low on them down here. I mean, man! An entire Radio Shack store of people, LAUGHING and POINTING at me! What a bunch of rude, uncivilized cretins! Dont they have any standards of social decency? I even tried to explain to the guy that I knew exactly what I was doing, as I have installed several operating systems before, and I knew the exact locations and compositions of the Windows 9x and NT registries as well, plus I even knew how to use RegEdit without breaking a sweat (really! Im -THAT- good … no thanks to THESE helpful goons).

I mean, (and you know this!) Im a grade-A computer nerd! I really dont NEED these peoples help! I was just trying to save myself some learning-curve time. Ill just figure it out ON MY OWN and then when THEY come to ME and ask ME questions well see whos laughing THEN! HMMMPH! (Sorry, just had to get that off my chest. Ive never been treated like this before. Before my advice has always been sought and respected and all of the sudden everyone treats me like I havent got a clue, and I just dont understand why. But Ill show them. TV is the wave of the future – whether they like it or not!).


Copyright (C) 2000 by Byron (Curt) Curtis Smith, Jr.

This article may be freely copied and distributed in unaltered form as long as this copyright notice remains intact. Any other use requires written permission by the author. Enjoy!

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