Features

Local entrepreneurs bring old technology into the digital age

Love TV but hate paying for dozens of channels you never watch? Self-taught electronics whiz and TV signal specialist Mario Trottier says he can get you watching the basics, up to 23 television channels including CBC, CTV, NBC, PBS, Global and more, all in beautiful high definition.

There’s no monthly subscription or satellite-dish investment.

“We make our own antenna, and put it on the roof where you have the most signals,” explains Trottier, who uses a Swiss-made spectrum analyzer to determine the best spot to place the antenna. “When I’m on the roof, I could walk five feet and the signals go down by 50 per cent. I’ve got to find the ‘sweet spot’.”

When over-the-air analog TV signals were replaced by digital technology in 2011, most people ditched their old TV sets for new ones and began to pay monthly to watch their favourite shows. This was not necessary, according to Trottier.

“If you have an older TV you can buy a converter instead of changing sets for $79.” And with a digital HDTV antenna on the roof, optimally placed, the client has access to “80 per cent of the most watched shows,” Trottier says.

At the age of 12, Trottier was fascinated by the intricacies of television sets, taking apart (and putting back together) his family’s TV set. He learned his craft mostly through instruction manuals he ordered from major electronics companies and spent decades building and installing satellite systems, closed circuit TV and antenna towers.

“I started out repairing picture-tube TVs and I had a little store in Shawinigan,” Trottier said. The more people learn of the alternative viewing options he offers, the busier he becomes. The antenna he designed is made of fibreglass that should last 25 years, he says. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I spent my whole life in the television business.”

514-690-4868, watchhdfree.com

Dreaming in Kodacolor

Though we may dream in Technicolor, some of our most beautiful memories are in Kodacolor. And the older these precious photographs are, the more often they are torn, scratched, curled and very hard to enjoy while squinting.

Jason Safdie—“as in the architect”—developed an interest in making the old new again, when he first transferred his father’s vinyl recordings to computer, then on a memory stick so his dad could listen to his music in his car.

With his wife, Susan, he has expanded this interest to restoring family photographs that have been damaged by age, or some disaster.

“Basically what we do is we take people’s old files, records, tapes, audiotapes, and we run it through the computer and digitize it.”

If a favourite record has a scratch, Safdie says he can remove it. “We had a flood in the ’90s and a lot of people had things destroyed, including their photographs.”

Safdie found a way of salvaging many soaked photos with the wonders of Photoshop. “Normally in a photograph, the part that gets destroyed first is the outside. It starts to curl, but you just want the people in the picture. We can remove that part and still save the photos. Or if you have negatives or slides, we can take them and remake the photograph.”

Cracks, tears and random spots can mostly be cleared up, resulting in a brand new, beautiful picture.

514-566-7957, thedigitaltransfer.ca

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