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Licensing Computer Techs As TV Repairmen 408

An anonymous reader writes "According to a story in yesterday's New Orleans paper, the Louisiana Radio and Television Technicians Board has sent letters to computer techs demanding fees to license them as radio and TV repairmen. Apparently, as computers drive more home theater applications, the board is trying to classify them as 'playback and recording device equipment,' which the law gives the board power to regulate. It looks more like a money grab, though, since no test is required, just $55 and an affidavit." It seems to me the better question is not whether computers can be defined in many circumstances as playback and recording equipment (hard to get around), but whether this kind of forced classification makes sense in the first place. Disingenuous quote of the day: "We're not trying to swing our arm around a whole bunch of people to get new revenue."
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Licensing Computer Techs As TV Repairmen

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  • Article text (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:57PM (#9895129)
    Computer techs hit with fee for license
    But it's coming from radio, TV industry
    Wednesday, August 04, 2004
    By Stewart Yerton
    Business writer

    For the past five years, Jarrod Broussard has run a small computer consulting company, helping business and residential customers deal with a host of problems: from designing Web sites and hosting them, to setting up networks, to troubleshooting software problems and eliminating the viruses that often plague today's computers.

    To Broussard, such work made him a computer technician, plain and simple. But according to a notice sent to Broussard last week from the Louisiana Radio and Television Technicians Board, state regulators have a different view of Broussard and others like him.

    According to a letter from the regulators, Broussard actually falls under the same regulatory umbrella as a TV repairman.

    As home computers come to the fore as entertainment devices, powering home theaters, audio systems and the like, the Radio and Television Technicians Board is seeking to license computer technicians much the way it has licensed television and radio repair workers since the 1950s.

    To that end, the board last week informed Broussard that he would have to send the board $55 and an affidavit from an employer, customer or computer school attesting that he was a computer consultant. In exchange, Broussard would receive his license.

    Mark Lewis, president of the Louisiana Technology Council, a trade association based in New Orleans, said he finds the situation absurd.

    "They're taking a law passed when computers weren't even around and applying it to computers," Lewis said. "The whole thing is mind-boggling to me -- how they could come up with something like this?"

    According to the letter sent to Broussard, the rationale is straightforward. Louisiana consumer protection laws give the board the power to license people who repair televisions, radios and "playback and recording device equipment" used in the home, the letter said. "Many home computers today, provide for television reception and recording, and all provide audio/visual playback and recording capabilities," the letter continued.

    "Therefore," the letter said, "the Board has elected to license computer technicians."

    The requirement would apply to people "engaged in the repair, maintenance, consultation, or training of computer equipment, including hardware, peripherals, and networks used in the home," the letter said. Commercial computer technicians are not subject to the new requirement, although individuals who provide both commercial and residential services have to comply.

    Computer technicians already in the business would be grandfathered into the system and not required to take a test proving competency to obtain a license, the letter said. Payment of $55 to the board and the affidavit would be sufficient.

    Stanley Brohn, secretary of the Radio and Television Technicians Board, said the intent and scope of the licensing requirement has been misunderstood. The licensing requirement, Brohn said, is designed to protect consumers who have hired computer technicians to install or repair new entertainment systems that employ computers.

    For example, Brohn said, some high definition television monitors are designed to be driven by computers, and in such instances, the work should be done by a certified television and radio technician to ensure that the expensive equipment is not damaged, Brohn said.

    "We're not going after computer technicians," he said. "The only thing we're doing is giving an opportunity for computer technicians to get into the radio and television side of the business."

    Brohn said the letter sent to Broussard and others was misleading in stating that the license requirement would apply to a broad range of computer technicians and consultants, and not simply those wanting to set up home entertainment systems.

    Brohn confirmed that he signed the letter but said
  • Louisiana = Alabama (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zaranne ( 733967 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [71ennaraz]> on Thursday August 05, 2004 @08:06PM (#9895206) Homepage Journal
    This is same sort of stupid stuff that Alabama pulls. They charge a licensing fee to sell calculators in the state. This is from a law made in the 1800's when cash registers were introduced. I think politicians thought "if it takes money, we should get some of it." They threw "them thar' cal-u-lating machines" in since they can be used to calculate money.

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday August 05, 2004 @08:12PM (#9895262)
    They all have a purpose...

    Driving -- for the safety of the road. Those drivers who prove themselves unsafe are removed.
    Marriage -- the license isn't as much a permission as a document proving it happened on the public record.
    Fishing/hunting -- to count limit the number of people who do so. If requests outnumber the number of animals that are meant to be taken, they won't approve them all and/or stop issuing.
  • Re:Whats next? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Six Nines ( 771061 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @08:13PM (#9895273)
    that's "farrier" -- it means "one who shoes horses" -- not that spelling is considered a skill, or anything...
  • by Esion Modnar ( 632431 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @08:17PM (#9895315)
    So how can a local government body issue people a license to repair lawbreaking equipment?

    Same way they can demand you pay a tax on all the marijuana you (not you personally) sell. You can actually buy marijuana tax stamps, which you are required to place on all bags of the stuff.

    Weird. "Put these stamps on all the bags of the stuff we'll send you to jail for if we catch you."

  • by YankeeInExile ( 577704 ) * on Thursday August 05, 2004 @08:36PM (#9895442) Homepage Journal

    I have always heard rumors of Marijuana Tax Stamps and the like, so I did a little googling. Here's a random sample from Kansas:

    Drug dealers, as defined above, are required by law to purchase tax stamps from the Department of Revenue's Business Tax Bureau (K.S.A. 79-5204). In order to protect against any possible violation of the self-incrimination constitutional protection, a dealer is not required to give his/her name or address when purchasing stamps and the Business Tax Bureau is prohibited from sharing any information relating to the purchase of drug tax stamps with law enforcement or anyone else
    There is other text [] for your amusement.
  • by dmaxwell ( 43234 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @08:41PM (#9895476)
    Apple is phasing out CRTs so this won't be true much longer but Apple Certified Technicians are indeed expected to be able to service Apple monitors. The Desktop Certification course contains a high voltage safety portion that has to be passed to get the certification.

    For that matter, LCD panels have inverters in them that can give quite a nasty shock. Apple also expects techs to be able to change out inverters and the lcd itself. Even if you're not working on Apples, it isn't uncommon to have to turn down the flyback voltage and refocus CRTs. I'm certainly not going to throw out a CRT that is slightly out of focus.

    As for power supplies, I've had supplies where the only thing wrong with it was that the fan had bad bearings. Swapping fans out with a more seriously damaged supply is nice quick repair.
  • by gcaseye6677 ( 694805 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:08PM (#9895626)
    What do you expect from a state that bans dildos []?
  • by randyest ( 589159 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:16PM (#9895673) Homepage
    Not having been anywhere the odious "source" of the grandparent poster's claim (thankfully,) I can only provide a cite to the contrary []

    CRT's (Cathode Ray Tubes) direct a beam of electrons at a thin layer of phosphor which coats the screen on your monitor. When the electrons strike the phosphor, shadow mask and other screen components, x-rays are produced. The amount and energy of the x-rays depends on the accelerating voltage. The relatively low voltages in CRT's (compared to commercial x-ray machines) means that relatively low quantities of low energy x-rays are produced and modern monitors are so well shielded, that there is no concern of being irradiated over time. Though it is possible for a damaged monitor to emit x-ray radiation, it is unlikely that harmful amounts will be released, and most x-rays would be directed towards the back or sides of the monitor. Any damage to the front of the CRT severe enough to increase x-ray emission would cause the CRT to implode.

    Ya know, if you're smart enough to ignore this sort of stuff (or vain enough to try to correct them,) /. can be hilarious for the amazing level of confidence maintained by some while posting the most outrageous, usually unsupported, and sometimes unsupportable nonsense ever uttered.
  • by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:31PM (#9895776)

    When I used to work as an Apple Tech, is was rated to repair monitors (CRTs) and did.

    Power fluctuations could cause the analog baords or the power supply boards on the CRT assembly to fail - usually if a capacitor overloaded. The Performa/PM 5200 model in particular was prone to these problems. In addition to replacing the faulty components, you would then have to 'configure' the display, aligning the image, keystone, etc...

    Given most newer style digital displays allow you to play with the alignment controls through a control panel on the front of the device, you spend less time with the back off - but it wasn't always that way.

  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:36PM (#9895805) Homepage Journal
    would you care to elaborate on what type of "improper" wiring will cause a CRT to emit X-rays

    Just because YOU never heard of it, doesn't mean that it's not true.

    Have a look [] at this.

    When the electrons strike the phosphor, shadow mask and other screen components, x-rays are produced. The amount and energy of the x-rays depends on the accelerating voltage. The relatively low voltages in CRT's (compared to commercial x-ray machines) means that relatively low quantities of low energy x-rays are produced and modern monitors are so well shielded, that there is no concern of being irradiated over time.

    This only applies when things are operating to spec, if some inept repairman steps up the accelerating voltage you will be exposed to X-Rays.

  • No, they are scum (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:40PM (#9896139)
    If there was any sort of testing involved, I'd buy it. I understanding licensing when there is a test. The point is to try and ensure some minimal level of competence. True, a written test does not necessitate real world skills, but at least it weeds out the total bozos.

    Like take car audio. Many (most even) manufacturers won't warentee their equipment unless it's "professionally installed". The reason is because there exists the good likelyhood of fuckup if some dumb teenager just wires it up themselves (it's much easier to fuck up car audio than home audio). So just what is a professional? Well it's someone that is a Mobile Electronics Certified Professional [], MECP. It's a simple written test akin to the A+ for computers. It's not proof you are a master with electronics, but at least it means you should know which wire is positive and how to ground a system.

    So, if it was something along these lines, that you had to be A+ certified, or have some computer certification, I could see the point, though not necessiarly support it. In that case the point would be to ensure minimal competence, that someone could know you were state licensed, meaning you'd apssed a standard test and so weren't just a complete liar that knows nothing of computers.

    That is not the case. All you do is send them $55. Oh give me a break, that probes nothing other than that you have (had) $55. It's like those diploma mills on the Internet. Sure it says PhD, but since all you did was give them money for it, it holds no actual meaning or value.

  • by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:49PM (#9896174)
    If you increase a tv tube's anode past its specification (like 35,000 volts, when it requires 25,000 volts) it will emit xray's.
  • by gunmenrock ( 742305 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @09:30AM (#9898358)
    The flyback on your average monitor puts out about 14KV. Most chassis' will dissipate that pretty quickly when the monitor is powered down, but caution is still advisable. Getting bit by the flyback won't kill you (unless you have a pacemaker or something), but it will knock you on your ass... As far as rewiring a CRT (meaning the pix tube itself), no, you shouldn't ever have to do it. Why would you? The only wire that even "goes" to the CRT is the anode coming off the flyback. You shouldn't ever, ever cut that, let alone splice it and wrap it in a little electrical tape. Everything else is right on the chassis or neckboard. There are a couple of wires that run to the CRT socket on the neckboard, but those shouldn't ever need to be cut either... in the event of swapping out a neckboard (no, don't do that either) or a CRT socket (maybe), those wires should be desoldered right at the socket. I work with monitors, CRTs, etc., frequently (I fix arcade games). There's a lot of misinformation here. Misinformation can be dangerous... like the people who say "to discharge a CRT, ground it to your wall socket!" Wrong wrong wrong. That won't do anything. You need to discharge to a RELATIVE ground; I.E. - the chassis' ground. A CRT is basically a bigass glass capacitor. OK. Rant over. Need coffee. I'll read this later to see if it's even coherent.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl