Mac and TV: An Unbeatable Combination


Mac and TV: An Unbeatable Combination
by Roger Born



It used to be my secret. I hid it for years. It wasn’t respectable. But now I am open about it and I accept myself for what I am. Yeah, I am a video junkie. I admit it. My wife would be the first to agree.



You see I am a “Visual” person. Some people are Auditory. That’s how they are wired. Some are Kinetic, meaning they have to do something with their hands to properly learn something. Auditory learners only have to hear something to get it. Most of us are probably Auditory learners, which explains why schools still teach in this fashion. But we who are the Visual learners have to see it to get it. A few people are Spacial, meaning they see things in 3D, and they can visualize things without either seeing or hearing it. You will find a lot of them are animators and architects.



All this has to do with how our brains are wired. Visual and Spacial people like TV. They like movies. They like sports. They like anything that moves. That’s why their faces are always in the tube. Because of this, I have learned when I am talking to someone, to move myself out of the visual range of the TV. It is like a magnet to my eyes. This has helped my relationships no end, and possibly even saved my marriage. My wife Connie is Kinetically wired. It took her years to understand me and my facination with whatever moves on the Boob Tube.



Reading this about me, you might imagine that the family TV is always on. No it isn’t, no more than my Mac is. I do have a life that consists of friends, and work, and long weekend trips with Connie exploring our new home in the land of mountains and desert.



But when my Mac is on, so is the TV. I have a small one next to the Mac’s monitor. Not too close, or there would be interference on one or the other’s screen. Between the Mac and the TV are a couple of tape decks and an audio/video amplifier which ties it all together. (Yeah, there’s a space there for a DVD when I get to it.) I create 3D animations on the Mac, and from that I build video presentations, which I review on the TV.



So this is my excuse for having a TV next to my Mac? No. Even if I didn’t use the TV for editing movies, I would have it right where it is. “I like to watch,” as Chauncy Gardener once said. I grew up on the TV. I could not imagine my life without it, at least part of the time.



I like great old movies, and I have a short list of some of the new ones. I like Trek, but for different reasons than most people. Shows like Trek and B5 are clean, free of bad language, gratuitous violence and sex, and are therefore safe for kids. These shows actually have a little thinking content too. I love Babylon Five best of all. That show I consider to be the best series there has ever been on TV.



Why do I watch TV so much? You might think its because of all the special effects. OK. I have all the standard Guy action flicks are in there: The Matrix, True Lies, James Bond, T2, Ronan, Die Hard, Toy Story, the Blues Brothers, a lot of that stuff. Yeah, they ARE fun, but that’s not the reason I like TV so much. I think the reason I watch is not really because I am Visual at all. Its because of the WRITING!



I am in love with the stories. There will never be enough of them in this sad, busy world! They are the stuff that dreams are made of! Like the movie theater, TV is just the medium to bring them to us. Man has always loved the stories. In all the centuries before us, it was the storyteller, around the camp fire or hearth, that we listened to. But today we are creatures of the Information Age. No other century has witnessed such a huge pipeline, a flood, of entertainment, information and knowledge – and stories – such as you and I so casually sit down to watch every day. Amazing!



It is for the Writing and the story, that I have collected a small number of movies and even a few episodes of Trek. Those few Trek shows are all Emmy winners, BTW. But the old movies, the classics, and B5 make the majority of my collection.



I have a handful of chick flicks for when Connie wants to watch one with me: Sleepless in Seatle, Beaches, stuff like that. Perhaps I have the courage to admit I am visual, but I don’t have to admit I like her shows too! We both like to give each other little presents now and then of one of the latest movies. She does this because she knows I like it. I do this because I hope we will like it together. Our favorite story of all time is “Somewhere in Time.” (But I only like it for the story.)



I do not watch much of anything else on my TV, except maybe CNN. I have cable, but it is largely useless. Most of the daily fare is mindless Drek. Poorly written Drek. Television has been called a vast wasteland because it is! Few and far between are scenes or events of any worth or significance. When you do find them they are sublime! There just aren’t many. If I do watch anything else, its PBS, the History Channel, or Bravo, but that only depends on whats on.



If I can take a break while my Mac is rendering a large file, I will put on a movie. Anything from Steven Speilberg, George Pal, or John Ford. I still try to watch something because of its real content, which is its world-class writing and story telling.



I am in love with the act of storytelling. I study the best of the storytellers. I cherish the written works of Heinlein, Asimov, Brin and Niven, not to mention Poe, Sandberg and Cummings. When I do take my eyes of the Tube, I listen to my Mac play some great Jazz, or a little Ravel. Or I let my Mac read to me some of those written words from the works I love best: Tennison, Kipling, Whitman, Miller, Martellaro or Farr.



Yeah, I have long gotten over apologizing for my TV habits. I am a Visual person. We don’t need to apologize for how our brain is wired. If you are a Visual or Spacial person you should not have to give your regrets for being so. So what that most of the world is Auditory. It takes all kinds of people to make this world go round. You have a right to watch your shows, your sports, your MTV, your old Ren and Stimpy, your Soaps, or whatever you enjoy. Just remember to make a life for yourself and your family outside of the TV too.



And while we are talking about balance, the Mac and the TV go together on your desk. I know AOL just introduced a box that will let you connect to them and their commercials on your TV. What? They think people will go for this? Remember WebTV?



Even Apple hypes their Quicktime Streaming Video. Excellent software. The best computer video app there is. It is the world standard. But it’s not streaming, is it? I have a good, fast computer set up, and I have a cable modem, (one of the few on the planet), and video on the Mac does not stream, it buffers. But you knew that. No video streams unless its first on your ultrawide video ready hard drive. I know you can even watch CD movies on your Mac, and if you own a DV Mac, you can watch DVD movies, (although nothing from George Lucas). There are also a lot of cards you can buy, and software that let you use your computer for a television. You could spend a lot of money on your computer to do what your TV already does.



What’s the point? Unless you want to use your powerbook or iBook for this when you travel, it isn’t worth it. Believe me, it is always cheaper to put a small TV and VCR next to your computer instead. One you probably already own. You won’t tie up your CPU and monitor space that way. Don’t let people fool you into thinking that the Computer and the Web will completely replace the TV. It might do that a few years from now, but not today or tomorrow.



With the Mac and the Web I am connected to the world in an intimate way. Information is at my fingertips. Friends are ever so close. But it is the TV that connects me to the rest of the world, and what’s happening in it, with a speed and immediacy that no DSL or Cable Modem can match. This is fine with me. I already have the best computer on the planet sitting on my desk. I got a Mac. Adding the TV, once I finally got over being ashamed of being a Visual person, made the Mac complete. Besides, why should I tie up my busy computers to try to do what my TV already does so effortlessly and cheaply right now.



Mac and TV. They belong together on your desk. Don’t you agree?



What do you think? Email me at:

Roger Born

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