Today as the Time Warner tech was working on my Cable TV and Internet connectivity issue, my cable guy was asking what my SiliconDust HDHomeRun box was since it was connected to the cable feed. I told him it was a QAM tuner for tuning unencrypted QAM channels on my home theater PC. And in the next breath Mr. Cable guy responded, "what's QAM?"
For those of you who don't know the answer to that question either don't feel bad as I've only learned this in the past year or so. It's just that I expected a cable technician would certainly understand the lingo. If you want to know what QAM is you can read the QAM wiki page if you're really into overly technical stuff, but here's my layman's definition:
QAM is a standard used by cable companies to deliver digital (not analog) television. If you use CableTV, odds are your cable company is delivering the digital channels to you using the QAM standard. Some of those channels are often unencrypted meaning if you have a HDTV with a built in tuner (QAM tuner) you can view those channels without a cable box or anything other than that TV. Unfortunately, cable companies typically encrypted most channels so you can't tune those encrypted channels without a cable box or a CableCard tuner.
By the way, a second cable tech joined the first one and did know what QAM was. He also was very knowledgeable about Home Theater PCs and my cable modulator and such. While they both told me I had a rats nest of cabling in my basement (true statement) they did say I had done a decent job of running the wires and such.
If you're interested in how to get those unencrypted QAM channels into your HTPC, check out my review of the HDHomeRun dual QAM tuner - it's an excellent choice. And you'll note that I now have internet (and cable TV) back to normal and better than ever so my posting frequency should be back to normal going forward.