Indirect route to discovery


Shaw dishIt is often said all things happen for a reason. I truly believe that’s the case for my gifting of a high-definition PVR/satellite receiver for my wife for her birthday.

We have Shaw Direct satellite service. We’ve had it for probably 15 years. But to use a PVR — personal video recorder — on a satellite system, you have to purchase a receiver/PVR, which I did.

We’re in and out on a regular basis, and with a 10-year-old daughter in the house you can’t always watch a movie at the time it airs, so I thought it would be perfect for my wife. Considering her job affords her longer lunch breaks, why not relax with a little prime-time TV or a movie with particularly colourful dialogue when our child is at school?

Seemed like a smart choice…until I went to hook it up.

Turns out I don’t have enough wires coming off the dish and into the house. When the dude did the install here about a decade ago, he only ran two wires into the house, one for each of our satellite receivers. But the PVR unit requires two connections on its own — one for the programming a user will watch, and one for the recorder. Actually, when it’s hooked up correctly, it is supposed to be able to record two shows at once and you can even watch a third (for the real TV addict). And then there’s the ability to pause live TV. Cool stuff.

So as I stared at my impasse, I realized we still had a special multi-switch in a box in the basement. It can send the satellite signal out to up to eight receivers (or four PVRs). It has four inputs, so I wired it up with the two incoming cables, hoping it would work (online referencing had me scratching my head, but pretty optimistic).

Nope. We received all the standard-definition channels, but fewer than half the high-definition channels.

A call to the tech folks at Shaw confirmed my suspicions — I’d need to bring two more wires into the house.

So my wife still doesn’t have the use of her present. But dinner at The Keg can cure most ailments, and that’s where we went last night. I think we’re all still full.

But I digress. As I was connecting lines to the multi-switch, which I had attached up on one of the floor joists in the basement workshop, I noticed an extra cable wire. I knew there was an old line running to the master bedroom that we don’t use, but this cable looked newer. I tracked it to the front of the house, where it exited the building. Sure enough, it goes out and down into the ground.

Surely this is our cable connection. As loyal readers may recall, I had a rant against Cogeco’s central office in December over “frozen” ground. That came after a great install guy showed up in the fall to set us up with high-speed Internet (our Bell connection is just too far away from that company’s Chatham hub for us to have much in the way of connection speed). I found what I thought was the cable line that came into the house, but it turned out to be a dead line. We both thought the line must have been cut sometime over the years, so he put in a work order for a crew to come in and lay some new cable for us.

But that never happened, as someone in Burlington deemed our ground frozen. I tried to explain that it was 10C in Chatham, but she wasn’t listening.

It seems that may have been for the best, as this connection I found yesterday may be the quick ticket to blazing Internet speeds for us. I am again cautiously optimistic. If it works out, I will have delivered Netflix to my wife and daughter, on top of much faster surfing. I’d look at that as a bonus birthday gift.

As for the original gift, some hole drilling and cable running should make for a quick upgrade there too. But I’m thinking maybe the experts should be the ones to punch a hole in the house at this time of year.





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