Rich Warren: A little technological advice from readers

Rich Warren: A little technological advice from readers

Two weeks ago, we featured reader questions. This week, we offer reader answers to those questions. Some are quite fascinating.

First, this response from Robert Culkeen, the station manger of the WILL stations. A reader questioned the audio dropouts on the WILL TV secondary digital channels.

Culkeen responded: "Our secondary channels (Create and World) are monitored just like our main channel. It's a challenge to monitor all the carriers. Our broadcast signal could be rock solid, but the delivery to the audience member could be problematic. This is due to the many different delivery options.

"In many cases, we hear of a situation when an audience member calls in to the station to report it. When we receive an inquiry from an audience member, we address it. We pass the communication on to the correct departments and a staff member will answer the inquiry.

"Topics can include technical issues, programming, scheduling, membership and various other topics.

"Connecting with our audience is important to us. Often people will not use our established system to contact us. The best way to contact us is by phone at 333-7300, by email at or by mail at 300 N. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, IL 61801.

"As for the Create situation you were asked about in your column, our engineers informed me that there have been two occasions in the past couple of months when Create audio on Comcast was missing. They tested our system found no errors and then contacted the Comcast head-end. Their technical staff reset the WILL Create decoder to restore audio."


Comcast also gets off the hook concerning the vanished WGN 9 p.m. newscast.

WGN in Chicago continues broadcasting a 9 p.m. newscast. But WGN provides a different TV station, WGN America, to Comcast and other cable/satellite providers.

It carries the noon Chicago newscast, and by delay, the evening one at 4 a.m.

If you desire the details, visit


Finally, for the reader interested in converting old "Tonight Shows" from VHS to DVD, we offer two reader-supplied solutions.

The do-it-yourself solution: "I bought at Lite-On LVC 9016g recorder at a garage sale for $5 and with a simple repair to the DVD section it will copy from tape to disc."

You probably can find the Lite-On or a similar unit that needs no repair used for $99 or less on Amazon or eBay.

This from a reader in California: "One important factor to consider about the person wanting to transfer the Johnny Carson programs to DVD is the fact that this material is considered copyrighted/protected data (owned either by Carson's production company, NBC, or possibly in joint ownership).

"Thus, according to the 1996 Home Taping Act from Congress it is legal for people to have recorded this material for personal use. It is also completely legal for a person to transfer this from one format to the other, as long as it is for personal use.

"It gets sticky when you bring a third party into this equation. While it is legal for an individual to do this, many professional firms may view this as a copyright/media protection infringement and be unwilling to do the transfer because they can't guarantee you won't ultimately attempt to sell the DVD version.

"I'd recommend before hiring a firm to do this you had better ask this question as to their policy."

Most businesses won't object if they judge that you request the transfer strictly for personal use. But I agree, the issue could arise.

The reader goes on to suggest that if you are going to deal with a company that requires shipping your tapes, use the U.S. Postal Service Media Mail option. It's not cost-effective for small tapes, CDs or books, but it's quite economical for large or heavy packages of books, sound and/or video recordings.

Just be sure to wrap your precious tapes in plenty of bubble wrap.

Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. He can be emailed at

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