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What I’ve Been Reduced To

My beloved 24-inch monstrosity of a monitor just experienced fatal explodination — I was sitting here reading something when it suddenly flickered, offered up a load pop and then went dead with only the alarming smell of ozone to mark its passing — and unfortunately the backup monitor I have is incompatible with my desktop computer because all my video cards have digital outputs.

So until I can order a new fancy-pants monitor, this is my set-up: My desktop keyboard hooked up to (and completely dominating) my little netbook. I have other laptops in the house, to be sure, but my wife uses one and my daughter uses the other, and they would be cross if I deprived them of them. And, I don’t know. I find this set-up mildly amusing. Although not so amusing that I’m going to keep it for more than a couple of days.

But spare a moment, if you would, for my departed monitor, bereft as it now is of the magic smoke which made it go. Soon it will off to that great computer recycling center in the sky. It served me well. I shall shed a tear for its glassy remains.

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

38 replies on “What I’ve Been Reduced To”

Your video cards can drive an analog monitor if you get a DVI to VGA adaptor. Should be less than $10 at any decent electronics store. Most cards come with one, so if you’ve saved boxes/manuals and what not take a look.

If you haven’t bought a replacement yet, you might want to look in to a monitor with an IPS panel. They’re better for doing photo editing (better viewing angles and color representation) and easier on the eyes, at least in my subjective experience (the iPad uses one). A little more expensive than a comparably-sized TN panel display, but generally not by too much.

Here’s a geeky, self-absorbed question (but related to the topic):
When you look straight-on at the photo that accompanies this squib on that netbook monitor, do you see your keyboard as an object with clearly distinguishable, labeled keycaps — or as a sort of smudgy black rectangular area under the monitor?

I thought I had the brightness/color/gamma attributes on my laptop’s LCD screen fairly well-optimized until I looked at this. But I had to change the tilt on my screen from approximately 100 degrees to 90 degrees in order to get a clear view of the keyboard (and consequently understand what you were talking about). So I’ve just re-tinkered and upped my brightness from about 98 to 103 (Nvidia Control Panel) and can now view this post and get a clear view of the keyboard at my usual 100-degree screen angle.

I’m wondering which set of screen coordinates represents the true Amber (so to speak) and which represents the coordinates of a nearby shadow world. (More context on this silly metaphor over here.

I’m a real power user and I quit using desktop machines quite a while ago. I’m working right now on a Lenovo T61p with two monitors: one 24 inch 1600×1200 and one 26 inch 1920×1200. I pop it out of the dock and take it to work, where I have the same monitors. With a good keyboard, mouse, and other stuff the laptop is not distinguishable from a desktop machine anymore.

Why not plug an external monitor into your laptop instead of using that little laptop screen?

Charles,

I am, like you, a laptop user with multiple monitors.

I have to say, the biggest difference between a laptop and desktop is driver support. The display drivers for the T61p are particularly bad.

If you’re looking for a large, high quality replacement without breaking the bank, I highly recommend a HannsG. I paired their 28″ model with my Mac Pro and it’s a thing of beauty. Oh and did I mention it’s a quarter the cost of a cinema display?

If you’re lucky enough to have someone with electronic tendencies nearby, say an old ham radio dude, you might be able to get the monitor fixed. It’s common to have one capacitor fail in a blindingly obvious way, and it’s an easy replacement.

I salute to the dead monitor, for it went out well, not with a whimper but with a bang. So many of mine gradually age, losing scan lines and colors over the years, it is hard to watch their passing.

Will you be holding a memorial service? The traditional memorial service for a dead monitor here has been finding a convenient upper floor overlooking a large hard surface, and sending the monitor on a journey. The cleanup afterward can take a while, hence it’s best to have a large open surface. The gravity descent can be a quite satisfying way to salute the passing of a monitor.

Sadly, I don’t know if this is really a safe way anymore; the last few monitors were merely sent away to a recycling center or donated to be refurbished and re-used.

Hmm. So you get a new dog and suddenly there’s Pepsi in the fridge and your electronics self-immolate. Does Daisy spend any time outside staring at the sky? At one particular star? As if it’s home?

Are you sure the monitor is dead? It could be just the backlight has burned out. I’ve heard that it’s so difficult to see the image on an LCD screen that isn’t back lit, particularly if the room lighting isn’t very bright, that people very often mistakenly think the monitor is blank and, therefore, dead.

Plug it back in and look very closely. Use a flashlight pointed at the screen on an angle. If you can see the image then it’s just the back light, which can be replaced. There are more tutorials on replacing LCD backlights on the Googles than you can shake a stick at. As for how easy/difficult it is to actually do, I have no idea. I’ve never actually done it. But if you’re really fond of your old monitor, it’s an option. And at about $20, it’s certainly more econimical.

When his monitor died, my brother actually hooked his desktop (and occasionally his laptop) up to the projector module that dangles from the ceiling in his home theater and broadcast it on the stupid huge screen (I think it’s something like 106″ or maybe more) in his basement.

It was cool for exactly ten minutes –rght up until the time he started playing Farmville.

Every video card and every monitor I’ve purchased since the advent of DVI ports (last 5 years or so) has come with a DVI-VGA adapter in one direction or the other … you might find you have one and don’t even know it :)

Man, your computer recycling centre flies? Ohio is awesome! Do they swing by and pick up the monitor, or do they have some sort of catapult stations positioned around town?

(Why, yes, the plot bunnies are breeding. Why do you ask?)

This was the big Dell monitor that could rotate (horizontal or vertical display), if I recall correctly. Was that a feature you used often enough to seek out another like it, but with digital input? Or was it something you could now pass up?

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