My new LCD monitor

What could be cooler than an LCD monitor? They really look sharp sitting on a desk. For years I have been using a 17″ CTX CRT at 1280×1024 resolution.

Anyone who comes into my office asks how I can stand it. The text is really tiny. But, I appreciate having all that real estate, because I often have multiple windows open.

So, why didn’t I have an LCD monitor?

Money. They were just too damned expensive and the 15″ monitors, pretty much the desktop standard, only provided 1024×768 resolution. That meant things would really be squeezed.

Why spend the money and trade down?

This past weekend, Staples put a Pixo AT700S, 17″ LCD monitor on sale for $380, minus an $80 rebate. Fat Wallet had a link to a Staples coupon which saved me another $30.

The specs show this to be somewhat below top of the line. The contrast numbers are below some I’ve seen and is the lag time. However, a recent article in one of my computer magazines said most of the published LCD monitor specs were wrong… often in the consumer’s favor!

It didn’t make much difference. I’m not quite sure what all the specs are anyway.

I bought the monitor home, hooked it up, turned on my PC and… nothing… white screen. The low res text booting screens were there, but as Windows got ready to deliver, the screen went white. Not only that, I couldn’t get the on-screen controls to work.

I knew my computer sometimes started in a weird video mode where the Windows desktop was larger than my CRT, forcing me to scroll around until I could reset it. That seemed to be the case here. So, I hooked up the old monitor and reset the video… and created a hot key to easily reset it if this problem arises again.

The first thing I noticed was the brightness. This monitor is much whiter than any CRT I’ve used. Pictures were spectacular. Actually, maybe they were too good. I started noticing the artifacts of compression on images; something I hadn’t seen before. As bright as the whites were, the darks were deeper than the old CRT.

But, there were problems as well. Text looked ragged. This was especially true with what looks to be single pixel type, most often used for utility and menu purposes. Some letters looked thicker than others too and some straight lines weren’t quite vertical.

I opened the manual… actually a manualette and read. There were less answers than an Arnold Schwarzenegger news conference (OK – shoot me, I like the line).

What do phase and pitch do? Other commands seemed fairly straightforward, but these two, who knows? And, many of the commands seemed to be intertwined, in that doing one affected another.

PassMark has developed shareware monitor testing software. I downloaded it and fired it up. I’m not sure how you get a monitor to look good, but I do know what looks good. I started to play.

Pitch seemed to be very critical. It was the only control that caused visible screen pulses as it was adjusted. But, it was able to eliminate some thickness that letters only had on parts of the screen.

Does that make sense? It makes no sense to me either, but I’m not sure how else to say it.

Anyway, long story short, using the test screens I was able to tweak the monitor much better than I would have ever been able to just using my eyes. Yes, some very tiny type is ‘too sharp’ and displeasing to look at. But, by and large, everything is very sharp. Graphics are spectacular. There doesn’t seem to be any lag or problem when I use my TV tuner in the computer.

This 17″ LCD is much larger than my 17″ CRT (they are measured differently), meaning that at the same resolution, things are larger and more easily seen with this monitor.

There’s a 14 day return policy at Staples, with no restocking fee. I haven’t yet cut off the UPC for the rebate, but after some indecision, I think I’m going to keep it.

What I don’t understand is why these monitors are limited to 1280×1024? My 15″ laptop screen is 1400×1050 and it’s a thing of beauty. If Sony put one of those on the desktop… well, no, I probably wouldn’t spring for Sony’s prices. But, if Pixo put one out, I’d absolutely consider buying it.

$11 – gone

Found a Hold’em tournament for $11 this afternoon. Top payoff was well over $700.

I bombed out with AQ off suit to an A-10 who paired up.

48th of 276. Unfortunately, they only pay the first 27.

But before bed

I couldn’t help it. One more time. A very small, one table tournament. Stakes were $5+1. I came in third, losing with three of a kind to a guy who caught a straight on the river (shit happens).

PokerStars Tournament #237041, No Limit Hold’em

Buy-In: $5.00/$0.50

9 players

Total Prize Pool: $45.00

Tournament started – 2003/08/13 – 02:31:08 (EST)

Dear ctwxman,

You finished the tournament in 3rd place.

A $9.00 award has been credited to your Real Money account.

Congratulations!

Thank you for participating.

$9, or $3.50 more net.

Poker On line

It’s nearly 2:00 AM as I write this. I have played on and off since 9’ish.

My first mistake was entering a $30+3 Pot Limit Hold’em tournament. I had never played pot limit before and it immediately adds something new to the game. If you show weakness, other players in better position will take advantage and raise like crazy.

Now a pretty good hand becomes suspect. It might have been worth a bet… but your whole stack? As it is, I finished in the middle of the pack. I went “all in” with a two reasonably good picture cards only to lose.

Next it was a one table No Limit Hold’em tournament for $10+1. I don’t know what I was thinking, because I had just done so poorly with pot limit. I came in third, again going all in with a reasonably good hand only to lose to someone with a reasonably better hand.

Third place pays $18, so that’s $7 net, minus the $33, leaving me down $26.

Helaine played a $10+1 Hold’em tournament. Nada. Now down $37.

I decided, before bed, to try some low stakes non-tournament poker. After all, this is what I play in casinos. The advantage of tournaments is you limit your risk. But, I decided to play $1/$2, so how wrong could I go? How much can you possibly lose playing $1/$2?

It should be noted that I’m playing at pokerstars.com. Earlier, I had played at partypoker.com. There’s really not much difference. Competition makes them all match each other. I met some folks from pokerstars at The Orleans in Las Vegas at a tournament and they seemed nice.

Maybe the biggest difference here (and I haven’t been to Partypoker in a while) is the very, very low stakes games you can find. You can literally play $.01/$.02 pot Limit Hold’em, and $.02/$.04 with fixed limits.

Of course, there are also free games, but the play is so different when there’s no real money on the line that it’s just no fun.

I played around a half hour at $1/$2 and got very hot, very quickly. By the time I was done, I had gone from $37 in the hole, to $12 up. Moving $49 to the positive at these stakes is pretty unusual… so luck and the other player’s lack of skill certainly had to enter into it.

Poker obsessed

This is ridiculous. I have become poker obsessed.

I have a few days off and went to try and play on-line. Pokerstars.com have some free tournaments, with 1,000 entrants. Before I could figure out how to enter, it was full!

I’m willing to put some cash into this, but my credit card company will not approve payments for Internet gambling (they being smarter than I). There’s a method where you tie your checking account… need I go further? That’s not happening.

What I will do is bring some money to Stop & Shop and wire it to Costa Rica via Western Union.

Even as I say this, I realize this is probably a dumb thing to do. However, I will limit my loss to less than what I won this past weekend and see what happens.

Southwest VISA revisited

I got to the bottom of the credit card flap thing morning.

In 2000, three years ago, my mutual fund says they sent me new checks and had me sign for them. This May, they stopped honoring the old checks. I’ve been using the old ones all along, so they could have told me I was headed for a tree.

Bottom line – they’re wiring $5,000 into my checking account. They will waive any fees. Southwest’s VISA will refund my bounced check fee and will wire $5,000 from my Wachovia checking account. Wachovia, an innocent bystander, will probably charge me to receive the wire transfer (and make a huge profit on it).

Is this chapter closed? It should be. It probably isn’t.