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By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, October 5, 2008

Q We have upgraded to a digital TV, but we get only the local stations' analog signals, not their digital broadcasts. In the ads, they make it sound so simple. Am I the only one having this problem ?

A I told this reader that if he wasn't getting any digital signals in his Northwest D.C. home, there had to be something else wrong -- maybe his TV was not, in fact digital, or perhaps he had a wire or a plug misplaced somewhere.

The latter possibility turned out to be the case. He wrote back that he'd plugged the antenna cable into the wrong input on the back of the set; connecting it to the right one yielded good digital reception.

This sort of "obvious" mistake happens more often than you might think. I can't tell you (which really means "I don't want to tell you") how many times I've cursed an uncooperative router when all along I'd simply forgotten to plug in a network cable.

Is there any way to merge two iTunes Store accounts so I can play music bought on both on my iPhone?

If this reader were trying to play these downloads on a regular iPod, he'd be fine-- but an iPhone or iPod Touch, each capable of buying directly from the iTunes Store, can accept only one iTunes account at a time . When asked if there was any way to merge two iTunes accounts, Apple spokesman Jason Roth sent back a three-word reply: "There is not." And this reader had too many songs under the old account to burn to CD, then copy back to the computer.

The best way to avoid this situation is to avoid iTunes songs locked with Apple's "digital rights management" system in favor of Tunes Plus downloads, which don't have those usage restrictions and offer better audio quality. If iTunes offers a song only in DRM'd format -- let's call that "iTunes Minus" -- buy it from Amazon's MP3 store ( http://mp3.amazon.com) instead.

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 orrobp@washpost.com. Turn to Thursday's Business section or visit washingtonpost.com anytime for his Fast Forward column.


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