What to do when the lights go out

https://youtu.be/uASRgF2fwwY
Last night, in the wee hours of the morning, my bedside phone blorped a warning before going dark. When I looked around, everything was dark. Really dark. No reassuring electronic charging LEDs. No streetlights. Just the full darkness of a cloudy night in a neighborhood without electricity.

What was wrong? Had civilization collapsed? How widespread was the outage? All I knew was that a half-dozen UPSs throughout FTABlog World Headquarters were beep-beeping that I should gracefully shut down their attached computers. I grabbed a flashlight, brought the systems down gently, then silenced the alarms.

That took a few minutes, and then I returned to my original deep question: How bad was it? Fortunately, I had purchased a Portable LCD TV a couple of years ago and left it plugged in to keep it charged for just such an occasion. After sleepily forgetting for a moment that my rooftop TV antenna now relied on a powered splitter/amplifier, I attached the Homeworx Indoor HDTV Antenna that I had reviewed just a few months ago. With those in place, I tuned in the local CBS affiliate, which was rerunning the CBS Sunday Morning interview with Steven Colbert rather than the type of disaster coverage that makes me think of the SportsCenter ad embedded above. Now I knew it was safe to go back to bed. Forty-five minutes later, the phone awakened me with a fresh blorp to tell me that power had been restored. Thanks, phone.

This morning, with the internet restored, I surfed around to discover that somebody had driven into a utility pole, which I guess is what some folks do at 3:30 AM. The moral of the story is that a battery-powered TV and a decent little antenna can be really handy any time the power goes out.

And there’s one more side note. As I restored power to my OTA DVR test bed, my Simple.TV unit flashed a rapid blue light. I unplugged it for a minute, same problem. I hit the reset switch, same problem. On Google, the first hit for this problem was Simple.TV’s support page, What do the LEDs on the Simple.TV box mean? That page, last updated in October 2012, mentions a few possibilities but not rapid blue, noting “There are a few others, but these are the main ones you’re likely to see.” Which sounds to me like “We know of more, but we don’t want to worry you with them.”

Fortunately, the second hit on Google was to a thread on Simple.TV’s user forum where one member posted that the rapid blue light could be caused by a power supply failure. In another rare burst of forethought, I had purchased a Universal Power Adapter and put it on a shelf for just such an occasion. I set it to match the Simple.TV power supply, plugged it in, and voila, it worked like a champ!

Although I prefer my Tablo‘s superior ability to fast forward within recordings, I like my Simple.TV in some settings. (And I have to fix my routers after such outages to let the Tablo see the outside world again, while the Simple.TV handles it automatically.) But it’ll be difficult to recommend Simple.TV until it shows it can curate its support topics.

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