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Help Me Watch the Olympics
August 17, 2008 8:14 AM   Subscribe

I really want to watch the olympics. Here's why I can't:

1. My tv's digital, so can't pick up broadcast...and I don't have cable. I tried a digital antenna, to pick up digital broadcasts, but the signals are faint and there are no NBC affiliates broadcasting digital near me anyway.

2. I can't watch online because I have a PPC mac, and NBC's online video requires an Intel Mac (i tried spoofing the user agent, but the hangup is that they require silverlight 2.0, which only runs on Intel).

3. I can't watch in a bar because the sound's down, and I'm too dumb about sports to really understand everything without the commentary.

4. I can't watch in a friend's house, because I don't have any friends close enough to spend 4 hours on their couch every night for the next week.

So.......I thought of buying an intel mac and returning it in two weeks, but that's sleazy (plus there'd be restocking fees). I thought of buying cable for a week and then returning it, but it'd take 2 weeks for the cable guy to come hook me up.

So the only solution I can think of is to buy a cheap non-digital tv and antenna and watch broadcast NBC. It's still not SO cheap, unfortunately...unless I buy one in, like, a pawnshop. OTOH I'm not sure you can buy one in a store at this point anyway. Any other ideas?
posted by jimmyjimjim to Technology (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hmm...just thought of something. Are there any portable gizmos that pick up VHF (i.e. tv station) audio? If so, I could use it in a bar....just look like I'm listening to an ipod, not SO dorky....
posted by jimmyjimjim at 8:17 AM on August 17, 2008


Can you not connect a tv-tuner to this computer? You can buy little USB ones for not much.
posted by Iteki at 8:18 AM on August 17, 2008


Bittorrent?
posted by proj at 8:20 AM on August 17, 2008


Also, the Olympics are half over, so delayed viewing is going to be your best bet. Unless you buy a TV or other device today, you've missed half of them.
posted by proj at 8:22 AM on August 17, 2008


I also recently bought a 7'inch portable tv for 25 dollars (cheap because they stopped with analog broadcast here). I've also metamailed you with a link to another website that might help you out, doesn't feel fully ok to post it here, but if others want to give it a shot, let me know via metamail.
posted by Iteki at 8:24 AM on August 17, 2008


Excuse the triplepost. It just occurred to me that a Swedish language link is as little use to you as a bar with the sound off. You could watch from the bar while listening on an FM radio to a broadcast, or you could try looking at the webpages for channels in other english-speaking countries like Australia. They may have live websends.
posted by Iteki at 8:26 AM on August 17, 2008


I have no idea why I am so invested in this question, appologies once again.
Collection of advice at the link below.

http://www.webtvhub.com/how-to-watch-beijing-2008-olympics-online-legal-pirate-methods-for-free-live-action/
posted by Iteki at 8:29 AM on August 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Post a wanted on freecycle for an analog set. I've got one up there right now with no takers for a week so even places where it's still analog only a 20" TV is essentially worthless.
posted by Mitheral at 8:30 AM on August 17, 2008


You say you don't have any friends close enough to plop down on their couch for four hours every day this week. Do you mean distance-close or friendship close? If it's the latter, how about one night? Email/call your friends and say "hey, you planning to watch the Olympics tomorrow night? Can I bring a six-pack and join you?" If you don't have any local friends, maybe try a coworker you get on with? Seems like everyone in the world is watching these olympics, and really, it's so much more fun to watch with someone else. You may even develop some good friendships this way.
posted by lunasol at 8:31 AM on August 17, 2008


your TV's digital so you can't pick up broadcast? are you sure? most every recent TV I've seen (even the cheap ones) tune "NTSC" (which is the old, analog standard) as well as ATSC. you may need to change some settings on your TV - mine defaults to digital, but if I set it to analog, it'll tune that too. (it won't do both, and analog sucks, but then it sucked anyway. I have a cheap ViewSonic.)

alternatively, the DTV tuners you can get typically can tune NTSC TV as well - those things run about $75 and you can typically return them w/out restocking fees. or, a TV tuner for your Mac (as someone else suggested) - the ElGato EyeTV Hybrid is readily available, about $100, and probably won't have any restocking fees if you open it. you won't get ATSC or ClearQAM (digital broadcast and digital cable) on a PPC Mac, unless it's a really fast G5-based one, but it'll tune the analog fine. i'd first recommend looking through your TV's manual a bit more, though.
posted by mrg at 8:33 AM on August 17, 2008


tv tuner on computer a good idea....wonder if I can then output to my tv...don't see why not. Wiill research tv tuners that work with mac powerbooks, thanks.

iteki, thanks for all the help. can you clarify on this "You could watch from the bar while listening on an FM radio to a broadcast"? Are you saying I can somehow find tv audio on FM? That's news to me.

Lunasol, I live in the land of milk-for-blood, where people hunker down in their hermetic living spaces and have comfort zones the size of ants. It sucks, but it's also somnabulently relaxing.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 8:36 AM on August 17, 2008


just missed your posting, mrg, thanks, that helps a lot
posted by jimmyjimjim at 8:37 AM on August 17, 2008


I'd double-check that you can't get the digital antenna idea to work, somehow. Wouldn't every NBC affiliate be broadcasting digitally by now? (After all, the full changeover to digital-only is only a few months away.) And wherever you're going to be picking up the analog signal, you should be able to pick up the digital signal as well.

Even if you have to run the antenna outside or something, it still might be the easiest/cheapest solution. Plus the over-the-air digital broadcasts are somewhat better quality than satellite/cable anyway.
posted by dixie flatline at 8:38 AM on August 17, 2008


So the only solution I can think of is to buy a cheap non-digital tv and antenna and watch broadcast NBC. It's still not SO cheap, unfortunately...unless I buy one in, like, a pawnshop.

Craiglist? Heck, I'd start by looking in their free section. (There's always people picking up shiny new TVs that are just too lazy to throw out their old ones.)

Are there any portable gizmos that pick up VHF (i.e. tv station) audio?

Police scanner, possibly, depending on the frequency (channel). But you'd probably expose yourself to a lot of ridicule if you walked into a bar and started listening to your police scanner via headphones. Or at all, actually.

Iteki's link (his most recent one *g*) looks like a more feasible solution.
posted by fogster at 8:39 AM on August 17, 2008


I rented a TV from rent-a-center and bought an antenna from radio shack for $7. the TV is $36 for two weeks. i figured i could swing it. and they deliver it and pick it up again. i watched phelps, i watched the jamaicans, i'm watching women's b-ball right now. i only watch tv when the summer olympics are on, so i figured it was worth it. (i get all my other shows on hulu.com).
posted by cachondeo45 at 8:41 AM on August 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe someone here will offer to record it with a Slingbox and then you could watch it off their bandwidth. Just an idea.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:56 AM on August 17, 2008


1. Go to the thrift store or pawn shop and buy a $10 VCR. It doesn't matter if the tape mechanism works or not.

2. Plug the RCA video out from the VCR into the back of your television.

3. Hook up an antenna to the VCR. Scan for channels.

4. Set your TV for input 1 or whatever the VCR is connected to.

5. Use the VCR as your analog channel tuner.

Also, I don't believe you when you say that your television won't get analog signals. Are you sure you've set it up right? Checked every menu, etc?
posted by wfrgms at 8:57 AM on August 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


So the only solution I can think of is to buy a cheap non-digital tv and antenna and watch broadcast NBC. It's still not SO cheap, unfortunately...unless I buy one in, like, a pawnshop. OTOH I'm not sure you can buy one in a store at this point anyway.

Of course you can buy an antenna in a store. Antennas aren't digital or non-digital. I bought an antenna at Big Lots for $5. As for the television, try a thrift store--you should be able to find something in the $5-$10 range. All in all, this is what you'd spend on drinks at a bar, anyway.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:04 AM on August 17, 2008


So the only solution I can think of is to buy a cheap non-digital tv and antenna and watch broadcast NBC.

That's really the simplest solution. Go to a thrift store. They'll have tons, for cheap.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:05 AM on August 17, 2008


sopcast.org

Great for the football matches the three cable channels are not carrying.

I have no interest in the Olympics but I always see two or three channels dedicated to the Olympics - one or two from from HK (CCTV) and Singapore.
posted by Zambrano at 9:22 AM on August 17, 2008


Seconding wfrgms, you can use a VCR to receive analog broadcasts if your tv really doesn't have an analog tuner.
posted by Authorized User at 9:27 AM on August 17, 2008


Ok, you're all correct. My state of the art fancy digital HDTV does indeed get analog. Didn't know that was possible!

the issue is why my Terk HDTVa picks up NOTHING. I'm not in a major metro area, but I'm not in Utah, either. People do pick up broadcast hereabouts. Maybe I need to buy an extender for the antenna so I can put it outside (I'm in bottom floor of a three story house).
posted by jimmyjimjim at 9:32 AM on August 17, 2008


Hmm....did I screw up by not saying it's a HDTV set? Will analog broadcast be reasonably watchable? I searched my user manual's pdf for "ntsc" and found no mentions, though it definitely plays analog tv.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 9:40 AM on August 17, 2008


It could be your antenna, although I've heard good things about the Terk. It also could be your location. Check AntennaWeb to see if NBC is broadcasting analog in your area.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:07 AM on August 17, 2008


nearest NBC is in NYC, 65 miles away. argh. back to the drawing board. Guess I'll buy a tv-band portable audio thingee and watch in bars.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 10:13 AM on August 17, 2008


http://eztv.it/frontpage.php
posted by humanawho at 10:45 AM on August 17, 2008


I haven't read if the other replies say this, but:
I can't get anything with rabbit ears on my TV; I think I'm too far away from civilization. But I found out that my local cable provider is required to offer basic network cable (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and more). It's unadvertised, but when I asked, the operator offered it for $9/mo, no cable box required. I don't have a digital TV and it appears to work just fine. In fact, I got it for the purpose of watching the Olympics, but having all this local access and public television at my disposal is too fantastic to give up!
posted by sian at 5:20 PM on August 17, 2008


Oh, my bad. I just re-read your question. 2 weeks? That's ridiculous. They must really want your money where I live because they were in and out the very next day after I called.
posted by sian at 5:22 PM on August 17, 2008


Just saw this on Hackszine.com - you can view content from CCTV (China Central TV). But you have to spoof your location to appear to be in one of their licensed regions. The instructions are here.
posted by O9scar at 12:43 AM on August 18, 2008


Just saw this on Hackszine.com - you can view content from CCTV (China Central TV). But you have to spoof your location to appear to be in one of their licensed regions. The instructions are here.

One more thing - CCTV coverage is a bit different from what you'd get on a US network.
posted by O9scar at 12:53 AM on August 18, 2008


Thanks, o9scar. According to this article, though, CCTV only shows the chinese athletes http://www.slate.com/id/2197254/entry/2197505/
posted by jimmyjimjim at 9:00 PM on August 18, 2008


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