Saturday, June 24, 2017

You Can Call Me I.T. Girl

I'm so proud this morning that I just have to brag on myself....

For a couple of months, I'd been suspecting that my PC monitor was going out. Every time the monitor went to sleep, you had to turn it on and off literally about 30 times to get it to wake back up. It was the strangest thing. First there'd be a tiny image, no more than a pinpoint of light in the middle of the screen. Each time you powered it up, the image would get a tiny bit larger before fading into blackness again. The last few times you hit the power button, the image would fill the screen for increasingly longer intervals before fading back out. At last, the image would stay, looking perfectly normal.

This drove Allyson and me absolutely batty, though it was a great opportunity for me to cultivate patience several times a day. Despite Allyson's protests, I was determined to keep the monitor until it was completely nonfunctional due to my current budget constraints.

With a bit of research online, I figured out how to change the computer's settings so that the PC never slept. I resurrected an old screensaver program that displays random photos from the hard drive, and we greatly enjoyed that perpetual slide show, though sometimes it showed bizarre things like moldy cheese from Ethan's fourth-grade science project. At night, I had to drape a T-shirt over the monitor to block out the light so I could sleep. All in all, I felt pretty smug about my workaround that didn't cost a dime.

But last night, while binge-watching my first episodes of Heartland, which my mom had recommended, I noticed that the screen was getting flickery. Uh oh.

When I finally turned in at midnight, the screen was looking not only flickery, but also noticeably dimmer. I decided to give it a rest by turning it off for the night. Maybe it would be back to its quirky self in the morning, I reasoned. After all, it wasn't used to such constant use since I don't usually have time to watch TV on it.

Well, apparently it passed away during the night. Even after I'd pressed the power button about a hundred times this morning, there was no sign of life other than that subtle staticky sound it always makes just as the image appears or disappears. Yes, my monitor was officially dead.

I was going to shop online for used monitors, but how could I do that without a monitor? I sighed heavily. I hate doing comparison shopping on my cell phone.

After I'd texted a friend to ask if she had an extra monitor lying around somewhere (she didn't), I suddenly remembered an old PC and monitor that Ethan had used briefly several years back. Wasn't that monitor in a bin on a garage shelf? I hurried out into the dim garage, lit only by the one remaining garage door opener bulb. A quick scan of my scandalously messy space revealed no plastic bins that I could see. Maybe I'd lugged that bin up into the attic at some point. Ugh. I'd have to put on some clothes and back the car out into the driveway so I could climb up the rickety ladder into the attic.

But wait a minute. Perhaps I'd stored the bin in my overstuffed bedroom closet instead.

In my closet, my eyes fell on a small flat-screen TV, lying face-down on top of the DVD player we never use any more. A couple of years back, Allyson and I decided it was easier just to watch videos on the computer than to drag out all of this equipment with its tangled nest of input/output cords.

Hmm, I thought. That little TV looked an awful lot like the PC monitor. Might there be a way to hook it up to my computer? I disconnected all the input cables and laboriously untangled the power cord, then set the TV upside-down on my bed to examine all the ports: AV, HDMI, HDMI, USB, ... VGA! That VGA port looked an awful lot like the blue connector for my dead monitor.

Excitedly, I flipped over the monitor. There were no labels on the ports, but the pins on the connector did indeed seem to be a match for the TV's VGA port.

After a failed first attempt, I flipped the cable over and fitted it perfectly into the TV's matching port. Yay!!

The next obstacle was trying to stretch the small power cord to the big power strip against the wall; unfortunately, the old monitor's power cord was not a match. After rearranging the existing cords, I managed to pass the TV's cord through the crack above my desk's door hinges and into the closest outlet on the strip. Whew!

Now what, I wondered? The TV had a glowing orange light in one corner, but the screen was black. I turned it to the side so I could look at the impossibly tiny, impossibly dark labels on its vertical panel of buttons. First, I pressed the power button. The orange light changed to blue, but the screen was still black.

My heart sank. Maybe I would need to load some sort of driver on the PC. But how could I do that without a monitor? I examined the other buttons, which never failed to flummox me when we used to watch videos on this TV.

I gingerly pressed the top button, and the screen sprang to life. A blue rectangle bounced across the screen. "No Input, No Input" it said. Now here was progress!

I pressed and held the top button, and a list of input sources displayed: TV, AV, HDMI1, HDMI2... VGA! I randomly pressed the other buttons until the highlight bar began to move through the input options. When the VGA option was highlighted, I searched vainly for an OK button but found nothing. Argh! Why do all these devices have to be so horribly complex?? They make me feel so stupid!

After a few more seconds, the TV seemed to have figured out that VGA was my final choice. The input menu disappeared, and my computer screen expanded to fill the frame. Yay!!

I am so smart! Here I am blogging on a TV that was gathering dust in my closet just an hour ago. I don't remember when I've had so much fun! You can call me I.T. Girl.
Me Back When I had a Tech Support Job, circa 2003
(I never knew anything about hardware.)
That was my friend Brandy
on Bring Your Daughter to Work day.

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