Fixing Your TV Picture Size

Posted October 22, 2014 By Mom
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Today’s post is brought to you by the Click ‘N Dig! Key Finder set, a handy kit containing 6 receivers to attach to your keys and other frequently-lost items, plus extra batteries! Advertisers make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content each day for free, so thanks for your support.

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What’s Wrong With Your TV?

So you got one of those widescreen-format, HD television sets. But when you watch it, it doesn’t look quite so HD as it did in the store. Or maybe the resolution is good, but the broadcast picture doesn’t fill the screen. Maybe it’s not wide enough. Maybe it’s not tall enough. Whatever the case, there’s probably a pretty simple fix and it probably comes down to incorrect settings on one of the devices that’s attached to the TV.



1. Check the Video Settings menu on the TV itself.

Obviously, the specifics here will vary for each different make and model of TV. But if you’re in the habit of watching TV shows that are piped through a cable or satellite box, you may never have even bothered checking out the Video Settings menu on the TV itself.

Confession: I myself didn’t bother going into that menu on my 2 year old widescreen HDTV until this past weekend, and when I did I discovered that the TV was set to 720p for HD viewing when it should’ve been set to 1080p. You’ll have to check with your cable or satellite provider to be sure, but in general 1080p is the standard broadcast resolution setting for HD. The resolution you actually SEE comes down to the setting on the TV. If yours is set to 720p or SD on a TV that’s rated for 1080p HD resolution, you’re not getting the highest possible picture quality.

The Video Settings menu is also where you’ll find options to set the display “aspect ratio”, meaning how tall and how wide the picture should be. If you’ve invested in a widescreen TV, where the screen is wider than it is tall to give the same ‘letterbox’ effect you’d have in a movie theater, you’ll need to set the correct aspect ratio in Video Settings.

Check your TV user guide or manual for the correct setting. If you’ve lost the manual, go to the manufacturer’s website and visit the Support area. Most manufacturers make the manuals for their products available online free of charge.



2. Check the Video Settings menu on EVERY device attached to the TV.

Having the correct settings on the TV itself will not solve your problem if you have the wrong Video settings on your cable/satellite box, streaming box, Blu-ray player or DVR. Believe it or not, there’s a Video Settings menu on your console gaming unit (e.g., XBOX, PS4, etc.) too. And guess what? If you’re in the habit of connecting a laptop or tablet to your TV for viewing digital content, you may need to adjust the Video settings on that laptop or tablet as well.

After all, the makers of those devices can’t know ahead of time the specific make and model of TV the device will be used with, so the default settings tend to be pretty basic and not necessarily geared to a high-end HDTV.

Again, if you find you’re unsure which settings to choose, go to the website of the manufacturer for the specific device and look up the user guide. If that’s no help, look for Help and Support links that will allow you to call or email the device manufacturer for further guidance. Be prepared to provide the make and model of your TV.



3. Look for a “size” button on your TV, cable/satellite, or other device remote control.

Even when you have all the settings on the TV and other devices set properly, you can run into distortion problems when watching programs that aren’t being broadcast in a format that matches those settings. For example, very old TV shows like I Love Lucy and The Twilight Zone weren’t shot or broadcast in a widescreen format, so they may appear distorted when viewed on a TV that’s been optimized for widescreen viewing.

TV manufacturers and cable/satellite providers are aware of the problem, and have begun including a handy “size” button (may be labeled “display”, “AR” for ‘Aspect Ratio’, or something else – check your user guide) on the remote control that allows you to easily, temporarily change the screen size. On my Verizon Fios remote, there are four different size settings and I can cycle through them to find the one that looks best. When I’m done watching the oldies, I can use the size button to go back to my original settings.


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Bad News For DISH Satellite Service Subscribers

Engadget is reporting, and DISH is confirming, that yesterday’s deadline for Turner Broadcasting to renew its contract with DISH has passed, and as of today DISH will not be carrying such Turner channels as:

- Cartoon Network (and that means Adult Swim, too)

- CNN (and all of its associated CNN network channels)

- Turner Classic Movies

- Boomerang


- TruTV



Note that TBS and TNT are covered by a separate contract, so those two channels will still be available to DISH subscribers.

DISH isn’t saying if or when the Turner channels that were dropped today will again be available to DISH subscribers; from the DISH press release (linked above):

“DISH has had a productive relationship with Turner Networks for many years,” said Schlichting. “We regret the service disruption to our customers, and remain committed to reaching an agreement that promptly returns this content to DISH’s programming lineup.”


Other Sources For These Channels

There are apps for some of the affected channels, but I’m not going to bother sharing them here because none of them have stellar ratings and some require a subscriber log in for full access to all available content. Since DISH dropped the channels, DISH customers will no longer be able to log in as subscribers.

While it’s certainly not ideal, you can access at least some of the same content as you’d get on live TV via the channels’ websites. You’ll have to sit through some ads, but that’s the same as on TV.



Cartoon Network Site – partial and full episodes of select programs available (selection changes month to month), plus games and online community features. Some content requires subscriber log in.

Adult Swim Site – partial and full episodes of select programs available (selection changes month to month), plus games and online community features. Some content requires subscriber log in.

CNN Site – live streaming, community features, archives of past reporting,

Boomerang Site – unfortunately, you have to log in as a subscriber to access most of the video content here. Non-subscribers can view clips and play games.

Turner Classic Movies Site – more bad news: this is a pretty useless site for non-subscribers. About all you can do here without logging in is research classic movies and actors, and buy Turner Classic Movies merch.



Can I Use This As Justification To Quit My DISH Contract?

In all likelihood, no. Because all TV and cable service providers must periodically renew their contracts with studios, production companies and channel networks, it’s a safe bet there’s some verbiage in the fine print of the contract you signed that covers this exact situation and warned you that availability of channels is not guaranteed and the channel line up is subject to change at any time.

If you signed up for DISH very recently, complaining long and loudly enough to the vendor where you signed up for DISH may get you out of the contract. The only other reasonably possible out is if you signed up under some kind of free trial.


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Today’s post is brought to you by Nightmare Revisited, an album filled with 21 The Nightmare Before Christmas songs, covered by artists ranging from Shiny Toy Guns to Plain White T’s. Advertisers make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content each day for free, so thanks for your support.

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Welcome To Free Music Monday!

I’ve got something very special for you today: the Green Hill Celtic Music Sampler 2014 has an average review rating of 4.5/5 stars across over 470 Amazon reviews.

In addition, it’s got 15 tracks of Celtic music, including such classics as My Wild Irish Rose and Danny Boy.

There’s not much more I can say about this one, either you like Celtic music or you don’t. But I can say it’s a wonderful backing soundtrack for relaxing, dinner parties, holiday crafting, yoga, or a nice soak in the tub.

If you’re not familiar with Celtic music, this sampler album is a great place to start.


Green Hill Celtic Music Sampler 2014: get it now, while it’s FREE!


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Free App Friday for 10/17/14

Posted October 17, 2014 By Mom
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Today’s post is brought to you by Apple EarPods with Remote & Mic, currently 40% off at $17.49 and eligible for Prime shipping. Advertisers make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content each day for free, so thanks for your support.

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Free App Friday!

Here are the top ten most downloaded AND highest-rated apps (4/5 stars or better) from Amazon’s Android App Store as of this writing. Note that where a given app has already been included in a Free App Friday post, a different one (still with a minimum 4/5 star rating) will be subbed in. Remember that free apps may include in-app purchase (IAP) options or be ad-supported, but given that these apps have been given very high ratings by MANY consumers, where IAP links or ads are present they must be pretty unobtrusive. Descriptions below are from the apps’ product pages.

Haunted House Escape – It is a point and click adventure game with a scary experience that takes place inside a haunted house. Your goal is to destroy this wicked house and all the evil that is inside. The game has a lot of puzzles that will give you hours of gameplay until you beat it. 5/5 star avg rating.

How To Draw: Plants vs. Zombies – Welcome to step by step drawing instructions that will teach you how to draw Plants and Zombies from the popular game.

Wikipedia – Official Wikipedia App. Wikipedia is the free encyclopedia containing more than 32 million articles in 280 languages, and is the most comprehensive and widely used reference work humans have ever compiled. The app has been rewritten from scratch. Read, save, and edit articles faster than ever before.

Cat Story – One day you will wake up on soft sand of a shore of an unknown sea, under the shade of a tree that you’ve never seen before. You will feel that everything has changed, and so did you. Surprisingly, you will see that you have paws instead of hands, a furry tail in the back and on your face (rather on your snout), a pair of whiskers! So begins “Cat Story”!

Pewdiepug – This little pug dreams of becoming a big star on Youtube! Help him stay happy by stroking his belly and giving his fans a good show. Gain fame, pimp your pug!

Dungeons of Evilibrium – Dungeons of Evilibrium is a card battle RPG with tactical elements of TCG strategies and the dungeon crawling exploration of a board game. Collect and evolve character cards, build and enhance your army deck, beat other players and seize dungeons’ treasures! The whole world’s fate depends upon your choices and skills!

Beach Buggy Racing – Beach Buggy is back with an explosive sequel! Drive into an action-packed, surprise-filled world of off-road kart racing mayhem.

Lucky Wolf Casino – Lucky Wolf Casino Slots has the BIGGEST JACKPOTS and is the HIGHEST PAYING slot machine (pokie) experience in the app store! Experience the luxury and style of a Las Vegas Casino right in the palm of your hand.

Crazy Kitchen – Get cookin’ in this addictive, puzzle matching hit! Master 200+ challenging levels, with more coming soon! Connect food pieces to create tasty matches and score big points!

Western Story – Live a full life of a cowboy in a real town in the Old West. Build and decorate your own house. Help the town grow. Defend townspeople from bandits and work close with local sheriff to make the city safer. Challenge criminals to duel and catch them in dizzy chases just like in the best western movies.


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Today’s post is brought to you by the Shakespeare Insults Mug, which I own and love! Advertisers make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content each day for free, so thanks for your support.

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Did You Know About Facebook Stickers?

Facebook stickers are little, ready-made icons you can insert in your private messages and in comments you make to others’ status updates and posts when you’re using the full Facebook site in a web browser—functionality will vary in the mobile app and mobile version of Facebook.

There are lots of sets, many of them featuring licensed characters like Snoopy, Om-Nom from Cut the Rope, Adventure Time and World of Gumball, and they’re FREE!

**UPDATE** It appears that stickers are not enabled on Fan Pages, only on individual Facebook users’ timelines/profiles and in private messages.


The How-To’s

First, you have to “buy” at least one sticker set from the Sticker Store on Facebook—but as of this writing, all available sets are free. Once you have one or more sets in your personal collection, you can start using them!

1) Mouse over the little smiley face at the far right of the comment box, or at the lower left of the private message box, then click the “Post A Sticker” link.


2) Click on the plus sign to open the Sticker Store. Note that in the screenshot below, I’ve already added some stickers to my collection. The tab that’s open by default (indicated by the little clock icon) shows recently used stickers. The other tabs are for accessing each sticker set that’s part of your collection.


3. “Buy” the sticker sets you want by clicking the applicable green button (the screenshot below only shows a few sets, you can scroll up and down to view many more), and repeat steps 1 and 2 above to access your sticker sets in the future.

To insert a sticker in a comment box or private message box, just find the one you want to use in your collection and click on it! Note that the sticker you click on will be inserted and the comment/instant message containing the sticker will be posted immediately, there is no “undo” other than to delete the comment or message after it’s been created.


Note that while all currently-available sticker sets are free, the whole system seems to be set up to support a payment system. At some point I expect new sticker sets that will cost real money to be added, so just be alert to that possible change going forward.


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And now, a word from our sponsor…

I own several of these squat, sturdy literary quotes mugs from The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild, and the Shakespeare Insults Mug is the first one I ever bought. It quickly became such a daily fixture in my workspace that when it came time to add my caricature to the Digital Media Mom masthead, I decided to include it. If you’re reading this on the DMM site, check it out! The mug is microwave and dishwasher safe, and will bring a smile to the face of any Shakespeare fan.


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