May 6, 2010

There aren’t many TV shows that I watch, but there are still a few that I follow.  Part of my reduction project has been to try living without television.  It’s difficult because I grew up watching hours of TV every day.  To be knowledgable about entertainment was part of my “identity”.

To this day my mother still keeps her TV on 24 hours a day.  She says that the background noise helps keep her company when she’s alone.  Personally I don’t get it.  I can’t tolerate the cacophony of the noise and flashing light, the cheering/screaming crowd sounds, the rapid-fire staccato of the sales pitches.  Right now I only watch TV to see a story that I’m interested in, and I try to skip over the commericals.

When my storage unit was packed full of junk from my former life in an apartment, I had a small TV with a 10″ screen stored in a box.  It was an old one bought in 1985, so it was analog and not cable-ready.  Before that my TV set had a 13″ screen.  I always wanted the smallest TV screen that I could get because I didn’t like the influence that TV had on me and wanted to minimize it.  Those TV’s are long gone now.  When I moved into this shared house, I’d try to coordinate schedules so I could watch my shows on someone else’s TV when they were watching the same show.

That was okay for a while, but I wanted to get my own TV to increase my own personal freedom to see what I want when I want.  Now I live in a rented bedroom, so space is very limited.  The TV set would have to fit on my desk next to my stereo and computer.  I looked for a tiny TV that could be put on the corner of the desk and connect to the cable.  There were some “DVD player” gadgets with small screens, but I could play DVDs on my computer so I didn’t need that function in my TV.

What I purchased instead was a TV tuner gadget from Elgato, which worked with EyeTV software on my MacBook.  The TV cable plugged into the back of the tuner, and then connected to the MacBook with a USB wire.  With this setup I could watch cable TV channels on my computer, either in a window or full-screen.  It could also record and play back shows.  This tuner box combined with my computer removed the need to have a television or VCR on my desk – that was a huge space-saver!

Last year I upgraded my main computer from the MacBook to a PC laptop running Linux.  To make a long story short, I could not get the tuner to work with the new computer.  It still actually may be possible, but after working on it for more than six months with little success, I decided instead to change my approach.

The plan up to that point was to watch cable TV shows on my new computer like I used to on the Mac.  Instead, I could use this problem as an opportunity to reduce my TV viewing, which really was my long term goal.  I made a list of the shows I currently watch, and discovered that all but one were available online.  Either through Hulu or by streaming them on the network’s own website.  The one other show can be downloaded from a torrent site.  So I can still watch shows on my computer without a TV or VCR, and now also without the Elgato tuner.  Having no cable TV means I spend less time idly flipping through channels looking for something to watch.  This has been my entertainment system for about four months and is working well.

One Response to “Television”

  1. Louise Says:

    I’ve just come across your blog and its been a really useful resource in my own decluttering journey – so thank you.

    Have read every post, and look forward to the next one.

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