The Glitch That Almost Stole New Year’s

My wife and I volunteered to host a New Year’s Eve party for our teens at church last week. The party was complete with a miniature disco ball, lots of sugar, Guitar Hero, a mini LAN party, the biggest bag of pretzels known to man, and, of course, the ball drop. There was a minor problem getting the ball drop to work, however: the church has no way of receiving a digital television signal. Easy enough, I thought, I could bring our converter box and antenna to hook up to the sanctuary’s projector. We loaded the car up with teens, games, junk food, and computers and headed down the snowy road to church.

At the end of our twenty-or-so-mile drive, I started unpacking and realized that I had left the remote control for the converter box behind. This was despite my repeated reminders back home telling myself not to forget the remote. The big problem with this is that you cannot do anything with the converter box without the remote. It won’t even turn on. Remember the old joke about how long a man will hunt for the remote before he actually gets up to change the channel? Well… insert your own witty sarcasm here.

Fortunately, I had a back-up plan. A Macbook, a wireless router, and a projector should do the trick, I thought. So, the night before, I had googled possible streaming sources. EarthCam seemed to be the most promising. At around 10:30 on New Year’s Eve, I pulled up EarthCam’s view of Time Square and started streaming at 300k. No, it was not the greatest quality, but it worked fine. For almost an hour and a half, the stream went beautifully. Almost an hour and a half.

As the clock neared midnight, I noticed more and more hiccups in the stream and realized at about 11:57, more people started jumping on EarthCam. Finally, the lag grew so annoying and unreliable, I decided to switch over to the lower quality (100k) stream. Well… the teens stared at me and the screen as it continued to say “loading… loading… loading…” Not being one to panic (on the outside at least), I smoothly google “timesquarenyc” as advertised on EarthCam. I launched the site and watched again as the screen flashed “loading… loading… loading…”

The teens were screaming and I started wondering just how long it would take before they would forgive me for making them miss the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. Then, like clouds parting to reveal a grainy glimpse of Heaven, the video loaded up and began streaming just as the mayor (or at least it looked like the mayor in the blurry picture) pressed the button to start the ball drop. We loudly counted backward as the final sixty seconds of 2009 ticked away. A fitting end to the decade to illustrate the amazing advances in technology that have been made over the past ten years… and how there is still a long way to go.

Happy Ten’s to all.

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