I Am The Furniture Assembler

Stuff like this used to intimidate me. No more. I’ve overcome my fears. I follow the instructions scrupulously.

The twenty first century will be best known as the era of furniture assembly. Over the past two years I have earned my doctorate! Tonight I built a chair. It came from Staples. The separate pieces were packed in a box to take up the minimum amount of space.

Stuff like this used to intimidate me. No more. I’ve overcome my fears. I follow the instructions scrupulously.

This was among the best kits I’ve ever assembled. The instructions were totally done in drawings and quite clear. The hardware was parceled out in little plastic pouches numbered to coordinate with the instructions.

I attached the screws as firmly as I could.

In about twenty minutes the parts had become a chair.

How the hell did I flunk shop?


After dinner tonight I asked if we could stop at Staples. I needed three floppies! Yeah, when was the last time you used, much less needed, a floppy disk?

Great day. Beautiful weather. Helaine and I went out to pick up some pictures frames. We’re hanging last year’s Daffodil Hill photos the same day I go this year!

It was beautiful in Northfield. My friend Steve met me up there. More on the photography tomorrow as the geotagging of the pictures is slowing me down.

“Why do you need them tagged?” Helaine asked. “Don’t you know where you took them?”

She misses the point. I geotag because I can. I am driven to geotag. She doesn’t like the Three Stooges either.

diskettes.jpgAfter dinner tonight I asked if we could stop at Staples. I needed three floppies! Yeah, when was the last time you used, much less needed, a floppy disk?

You’ll be glad to know they’re still available and priced as if only desperate people are buying. My ten pack was nearly $7.00. Are you kidding me?

More on the photos tomorrow.

My Oldest Piece Of Computing Gear Dies

There was no neat way to use this kludge. No matter which side faced forward there were wires protruding.

7004br.jpgUntil this afternoon an SMC 7004BR router sat on a small shelf above my desk. A strangely designed piece of equipment, it had cables plugged in front and back. Along with 5-Ethernet sockets there was one parallel and one serial port.

There was no neat way to use this kludge. No matter which side faced forward there were wires protruding.

The 7004BR’s claim to fame was its role as a router with built-in serial printer port. It was used solely for printing the past few years, its router functionality was taken over by a sleeker wireless model. I turned off the DHCP functionality and assigned it a static IP address.

Kevin Webster and I got these around the same time. Mine went into service allowing the family to share a single dial-up modem plugged into the serial port! One node went, via an Ethernet cable that still spans the attic, to Stef’s playroom, the other my office.

Recently the 7004BR has shown signs of its age. Printing was sporadic. I couldn’t connect to its web-like configuration interface. Finally today it stopped working entirely. I did a hard reset which should have brought it back to its factory configuration. Nothing.

I asked Helaine to stop by Staples to pick up a replacement–a single purpose Ethernet to USB print server. She called sheepishly from the store.

“What does it look like?” she asked.

I told her she’d better ask for help. As it turned out, she was nowhere near where this esoteric piece of gear was hidden.

“I would have never found it,” she said as the clerk handed it over.

I was glad I hadn’t described it, because the box was about ten times the size of the server itself!

Much of what the 7004BR did is no longer done. Computers no longer have serial or parallel ports–nor do printers. USB handles it all.

It’s a piece of gear I used but never thought about. It passed through my gaze, but I stopped seeing it long ago. It was forgotten before it was gone. It is a throwback to the very beginning of the networked home.

It was by far the oldest piece of gear in use here. It goes out with the trash.

The Befuddled Look

I don’t know how to explain the look except to say you’d know it if you saw it.

easy_button.jpgI went to Staples today. I needed to replace something I’d foolishly thrown away. Don’t ask.

While waiting in line to check out I looked to my left and watched a salesperson speaking with a teenage girl and her father. They were at an end cap display for a laptop computers.

The father was shuffling his feet as if he was uncomfortable being where he was. Then he looked up, turned his head and gave the befuddled look. I don’t know how to explain the look except to say you’d know it if you saw it.

I feel bad for this guy. He knew nothing but was about to make an expensive decision. “Dude, unless you’re playing graphically driven games or doing heavyweight photo and video editing, they’re all fine.” I wanted to say that. I didn’t.

On the other hand, his daughter was probably lobbying for the pretty laptop–whichever one that might be. My daughter was a teenager. I totally understand. All he knew was, no matter what the final decision he would be held responsible. There’s little upside being the dad in this situation.

From time-to-time we’re all babes in the woods. Stores know that, don’t they?

Unmistakenly Springlike

Helaine just returned from taking the trash cans to the curb. She was smiling.

Even though our lawn is 2/3 snow covered (the lawn over the septic tank always melts first), it is unmistakably springlike outside. The Sun is significantly higher in the sky, a difference you can feel on your skin.

Every year, in August and September, as the kids get ready to return to school, Staples runs a commercial with a parent shopping to the tune of, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.” Wrong! Spring is the most wonderful time of the year.

Sure, we’ll still see snow and colder temperatures, but the promise of spring is in the air. At this moment, a promise is all I need.

Someone To Watch Over Her

I have already chronicled Steffie’s navigational problems while driving to new places… and a few old ones. It’s something every new driver experiences as they realize, maybe they should have been looking out the window while they were in the car the last 18 or so years!

That being said, we knew Stefanie would want, and we wanted her to have, a GPS unit. With the holidays approaching we scanned the ads and online ‘intelligence’ every day, looking for a deal.

Finally, late in November we found our prey. In a Staples circular was an ad for an Invion GPS. Ever hear of Invion? Me neither.

I looked online, but if there were any reviews, I couldn’t find them. It seemed as if Invion was primarily a European company. It seemed to be based in the Netherlands (though I’m sure the electronics were thrown together in China). They had similar units, but this particular one wasn’t mentioned.

If you’re in retail, here’s advice for you. At times like this, your reputation makes the sale. We bought the unit, knowing that if there was a problem, Staples would stand behind it. The Staples name was much more important than Invion.

Steffie opened it for the holidays and then Daddy took over, charging it and scanning the manual. This is another one of those manuals that looks a lot easier to understand than it really is. You read it, understand all the words but little of the concept.

I needed to experiment before it left for school. I fired it up a few nights ago from the kitchen. It easily locked onto a few satellites and found our house.

These little boxes take advantage of amazing technology. OK – it’s used for the precision guidance of missiles too. No one’s perfect.

Tonight, it was Steffie’s turn to try it out. First, we fired it up in the kitchen and Steffie programmed in her school’s address. The machine guided her through the process, eliminating letters as her choices became more obvious.

We brought it to the car, stuck its base to the dashboard and headed toward her school.

For the first two or three seconds, nothing happened. Steffie asked if the little icon in the center of the screen should have repositioned itself as we moved down the driveway? But before I could answer, it did move.

“Turn right in 100 yards,” said the Stepford-like voice inside. There was no accent, no regionalism, no inflection.

“Turn right now,” the voice said, without missing a beat.

And obediently, Steffie turned right. She was smiling. I was too.

We drove a couple of miles and turned around. Steffie touched the screen a few times, finally tapping the word “Home.” The voice was eager to please. She even knew the driveway was our final destination.

I’m just amazed by all of this. The unit just seems to work. In our very brief test, it passed with a 100%.

I’ll be more amazed when we get our rebate check!

The Stuff You Find

Our house cleaning continues. As it turns out, we hadn’t thrown out financial papers in… well, we’d just never thrown them out and we’ve been married for nearly 23 years!

Helaine stopped at Staples and bought a small shredder. She’s been working her way through our papers, a sheet or two at a time. I pointed out, we could have just thrown them in the fireplace and lit a match!

Here are two interesting pieces of paper – neither of any real value.

The first is the receipt from sending an audition tape to Mike Sechrist in New Haven. This little $9.35 investment turned into my job of the last 22 years. Pretty decent ROI!

The second is a receipt from PEOPLExpress for $23. It was the first real discount airline. You paid for your ticket on the plane! Often, they would board through the ‘normal’ and rear stairs.

Yup, you’d climb in through the tail!

Though it was good, in that it led to lower fares, PEOPLExpress is also responsible for cattle car crowding (and they did it on old DC9s), hub and spoke routing, less than scrupulous adherence to a schedule and the end of gracious service onboard.

I once saw a comedian who said the two most spoken words at PEOPLExpress’ Newark terminal (and old, non-air conditioned hangar) were, “Never again.”

Gifts From New Orleans

I arrived at work yesterday and found a large box from Staples sitting next to my desk. It was from my friend Farrell’s mom, Ruth.

Ruth Meisel was a lifelong New Orleans resident. She’s in Connecticut now, permanently.

Ruth was among those who had heard dire warnings before and decided to stand her ground, in place, against Hurricane Katrina. I’d like to think I had some influence in getting her to change her mind before the storm hit.

Looking back, Ruth knows she made the right choice to leave. Though her house stands, a look inside only hints at what she would have experienced. It must have been an astoundingly hard decision at the time.

When I opened the box, I smiled.

I will get more elaborate and more expensive gifts this holiday season, but none more thoughtful or meaningful. What you see in the photo is a New Orleans care package.

Laser Printer Follies

I went to print something today on my Samsung ML-1210 laser printer. This little economy model has been a faithful friend for a few years.

Years ago, I thought color was the way to go, but ink jet printouts never looked quiet right. After a few weeks with the Samsung, I never questioned the purchase.

Fast forward to 2005.

A week or so ago, I went to print something and the paper wouldn’t move. I took it out, riffled it, put it back in the printer and after a little coaxing, it printed. I didn’t think anything of it until today when, again, I went to print only to see the paper become a still life.

I took off the back of the printer (as if I’d actually be able to see a problem), and pushed a few movable parts. I knew right away this thing was too disposal to fix. If it was gone, it was gone.

I looked around on the Internet and found a few decent replacement candidates.

Not every printer will work in my house. We print to a port on my router. In other words, the printer is not directly connected to the computer. That means no USB printers and, as I unfortunately found out, not every parallel port printer either.

Staples had a great deal on a Konica-Minolta PagePro 1250W. I drove up to Cheshire, popped into the store and brought it home.

This printer is a “Windows only” model, and that was my undoing. It needed to be directly connected to a Windows computer to get its instructions. In fact, much of what most printers do is pawned off to the computer when you’re using this particular printer. It just didn’t know how to send data over a network cable to my router.

It only took a few minutes of fooling with it, and then a few more researching the problem on Usenet, before I realized I was sunk.

Back to Staples.

Their computer guru said taking it back was no problem, but I know thats not so. By my opening it, I have reduced its value to them. And, even though that cost is built into everything they sell, I felt bad about it.

He asked if I’d be interested in something else. I’m not sure whether it was guilt or just a desire to get this over with, but I went back to the printer aisle to take another look.

I ended up with a Brother HL-2040. It’s pretty close to the same footprint as my original Samsung, though it prints faster. I spent $30 or so more than I wanted to, but it’s done.

Hooking up the Brother was easy. It immediately adapted to my somewhat non-conventional setup and printed very nicely on the first try.

Now I’ve got to change the drivers on all the PCs around the house.

Problem solved.

My New, Old Computer

My butt is sore. Much of yesterday was spent on the hardwood floor in my office moving pieces in and out of my main computer.

Over the past few months, this computer has become more and more unstable. As tech support for my family and many of my friends, this is a situation I have seen and advised on many times in the past. Usually I consider a total rebuild to be the last resort. This was different.

I am, alas, fast and loose when it comes to software. I move things in and out of my machine on a fairly steady and totally disorganized way. Who really knows what was inside of it to make it croak?

On many machines the instability is caused by outside forces containing viruses and spyware. I don’t think that was the case (though it’s possible). Somehow, through all my playing, some driver been ‘pranged.’ It’s possible it was just one byte, or maybe more. It was impossible to predict where or when the crash would occur – only that it would.

Of course that’s the problem. Computers should be dependable. How anxious would anyone be to do any work on a computer with the understanding that you were no more than minutes or seconds to losing everything you had worked on?

I decided the best course of action would be to add a new hard drive, allowing me to keep my old data and reorganize. Most modern computers have one hard drive and a CDROM or DVD player/recorder. This machine now has five&#185 hard drives, a CDRW and DVDRW.

Staples was having a sale and I picked up a 160 GB drive for $70. That’s an astounding number, though it probably will be middle of the road in a few months and expensive by the summer. That’s how high tech pricing goes.

My friend Peter is disappointed I didn’t buy the biggest and (more importantly) fastest drive I could get my hands on. I am a firm believer that most high tech horsepower is wasted. Getting a deal was more important than getting a speed demon.

I plopped the drive in the case… not as easy as it sounds. Because of all the pre-existing wiring, I had to disconnect and reconnect devices to swing the drive bay out and then back in.

Who exactly designed the plugs used in IDE disk drives? This is ridiculous, with an almost impossible to find key arrangement that allows you to decide whether the plug is going in upside up or upside down. It is possible to put it in backwards and bend some pins. Ask the man who has!

This 160 GB hard drive has more capacity than my machine can address! I put in a CDROM from the drive’s manufacturer, Maxtor and split it into 3 parts: 10, 75 and 79 GB. It was time to turn my computer back into a computer.

As I was loading Windows, a sobering thought entered my mind. What if it was crashing because of some hardware failure? I would be out the $70 for a drive that would be useless. I didn’t want that.

Windows loaded fine. Then, I pulled out a CDROM I had burned (and have used at least a half dozen times since) with Windows XP Service Pack 2. This is so much easier than downloading it every time it’s needed.

I have discussed this with other techno weenie friends. No matter how many times you install Windows, each installation comes out slightly differently. I have no idea why.

After Windows was totally up-to-date, I began to load all the hardware specific drivers I needed. I was surprised that the drivers for my video card were totally different -totally redesigned in look and feel – from what I had been using.

Are they faster and better or just different? With computers, version 2 is not necessarily better than version 1.

Next I started to move back some of the software. Because of Windows structure, if you put in a new drive and reload Windows, all your old installed programs (even if they’re still accessible) have to be reinstalled from scratch! The data remains, but the program is unusable.

As of this moment, I, once again, have a working computer. Of course I always did have a working computer… there are three in this room at the moment. But, right now, my main machine is pure and sweet and speedy again. Its data is still somewhat disassociated from its programs. That will need to be fixed. I’ll also keep checking to see what I’ve forgotten or misplaced.

The final step to make this box totally operational will be to follow some on-line instructions and shut down a bunch of services Windows runs in the background which I don’t need, and which slow down any computer.

All of this is a royal pain, yet it’s my fun.

&#185 – Only four are supported at any one time and the smallest is currently offline. It contains most of my photos, which will be moved to another drive. Then it will be removed from the case and used in another project.

Something For Nothing – Sometimes

Everyone likes to get something for nothing. I certainly do. That’s probably why I’m so enamored with rebates. I seek them out like crazy. I scour techbargains.com and fatwallet.com searching for some elusive toy I’ve just got to have – as long as it’s free, or close to it!

Sunday’s are always fun. Before I read the newspaper, I check the ads. The biggest deals come from CompUSA, Staples, Circuit City and Office Max. Best Buy has the slickest ads – not the best prices.

I mention this, because I’ve just finished doing the paperwork for six separate rebates. That doesn’t mean six separate items, because often a single item will have two rebates.

Who’s kidding whom? Multiple rebates are there because it’s just one more way to discourage you from getting the rebate. That’s the sad truth. Rebates look a lot friendlier, easier and lucrative before you buy than after.

Each rebate form is a scavenger hunt with slightly different rules. Send a copy – no wait – send the original – no wait – circle the price – no wait … you understand. The idea is to make it as difficult as possible, as time consuming as possible, to regain your cash.

It is possible to make rebates easier to obtain, but that would fly in the face of what’s really happening. Rebates allow stores to advertise a lower price than the item will actually sell for.

I have a sneaky suspicion that some of the rebates I send in never produce a check. I keep receipts, but the whole process becomes so difficult and tedious that checking is nearly impossible.

Tonight’s paperwork should produce over $200 in cash and reduce my cost for these items to around $100. Not bad, if it works.

Every Little Bit Counts

It’s just a guess, but I think more people save coins than don’t. I’m not talking about numismatists, but folks throwing coins in a jar. It’s an itch that’s been scratched with coin counting machines (taking an exorbitant percentage, in my opinion) at most grocery stores.

We are with the majority. Every night, as I’m getting changed, I reach into my pocket and put whatever comes out into a jar. I don’t consciously look to horde these coins, but I’m not always fishing to see if I’ve got exact change either.

If I go to Subway it’s always 50&#162-60&#162 in change. Later I might get a Diet Coke (the mere fact that I have stooped to buying diet sodas upsets me) which is 75&#162 in the machine at the station. A medium coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts varies, but it’s around $1.60.

Over the last year and a half, or so, we have filled three good sized jars of coins. Today was the day to roll them.

Helaine spread an old towel on the bedroom floor and I dumped the jars, one at a time. Then we segregated the coins, putting all like denominations together. We also pulled out a few Canadian coins, half dollars, an old style nickel and one Sacagawea&#185 gold colored (though containing no gold at all) dollar.

As soon as we began rolling the coins, we realized we wouldn’t have enough wrappers. So, I headed out to Staples while Helaine continued rolling.

I got back in time to help roll the last few nickels.

There was some spillover – not enough of a given value to complete a roll, and pennies that after a while didn’t seem worth the effort and weren’t rolled. But this was a worthwhile afternoon. Our grand total was $450! Not bad considering this had been a painless acquisition.

The lst time we did this, I asked a friend in the restaurant business (who is forced to ‘buy’ coin rolls at face value plus a percentage from his bank) if he would take them. I’ll call him tomorrow… and then start the collection cycle again.

&#185 – Blogger’s note: The US Treasury Department uses the spelling “Sacagawea.” The spell checker I use, ieSpell, says “Sacajawea.” I’ll go with the government with apologies if I’m wrong.

Building a New PC – Almost

Why would anyone want three PCs at home? I’m not talking about the machines shared with my family. These are my computers. Granted, two of them are discards; computers deemed too slow by others.

I have done most of what I could to optimize these older machines. They’re loaded with memory and unnecessary processes are shut down. You still can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, but you can get a lot closer than most people expect.

The laptop, a Pentium II 300 MHz model, is my road machine. It’s got a wireless card and is often downstairs in the family room (especially if I’m watching TV and playing poker). It is sometimes sluggish, but never enough to be a bother.

The second desktop is also a P-II 300. Well, it was until a few days ago.

I wondered if it would be possible to bring this machine into the 21st century without spending much cash. TigerDirect was having a sale where the net cost (after rebates) of a motherboard, fast processor chip with fan, and memory was only $99.99. I decided to give it a try.

It took about three days for UPS to deliver my package. Looking in the box, everything was there, in its original packaging. So far, so good.

Fearing the 256MB RAM stick that came with the kit wasn’t enough, I went to Staples and bought another 256MB. It was $30, after rebate, bringing me to $130.

What is missing in a deal like this is a great deal of documentation. There were no instructions with either the CPU chip (an AMD XP 2400) or the fan. There was a sticky label on the chip’s packaging saying, in essence, “you break it, too bad.”

Instructions don’t seem like a big deal, but mounting the fan isn’t totally intuitive and a thermal compound paste (included) has to be applied between the fan and chip.

My first step was unplugging the old motherboard, unscrewing and removing it from the case. No problem. It came out really easily.

Since the computer industry standardized motherboard sizes, my new ATX board should fit exactly where the old board sat. It did. A new plate fit between the case and motherboard, allowing the external plugs for video, audio, mouse and keyboard to be accessible. So far, so good.

Each individual peripheral, like a disk drive, has to be wired for both data and power. It sounds tougher than it is. There are distinctly sized plugs for each operation. It’s tough to go wrong, though it is possible if you’re not looking, to put some plugs in backwards.

The manual for the Soyo motherboard was well illustrated and easily led me to the right sockets on the board for all these cables. I did have to call AMD to try and figure out how to set an on-board jumper. I was on and off the phone in two minutes.

AMD, if you’re listening, I’m impressed.

It took a bit over an hour on the kitchen table before I was ready to plug it in. I lugged the case upstairs and plugged it into my KVM switch. KVM stands for keyboard, video, mouse. All it means is I can run two computers from one set of devices. Hitting the scroll lock key twice toggles my keyboard, mouse and monitor from one machine to the other. It’s pretty simple, saves space and lots of money.

The system started to power up, but the normal beep as it’s getting ready to go was replaced by a continuous tone for a few seconds and then… silence. The machine shut itself down.

Uh oh. I took a look at everything under the hood. Something had to be wrong. I didn’t see anything out of place. So, I went to Soyo’s website and searched out my problem.

Someone had described a similar outcome for another motherboard. It hinged on the safety circuitry not sensing the cooling fan on the computer chip. Sure enough, my fan was plugged into the wrong socket.

Though the fan was spinning, keeping things cool, the motherboard’s circuitry though it was just an extra fan, not the one necessary to keep the chip operating. I moved the plug and bingo, it booted.

I spent the next few hours going through a bunch of different operating systems, trying to decide what I wanted. I loaded Windows XP and two different flavors of Linux.

Since I was aiming to keep the cost down, I went with Linux. Specifically, it’s “Mandrake Linux 10 Community,” a close-to-production release. It’s free! I actually downloaded the installation disks the night before and burned them onto Cd’s. Unless you play games or run some very specific applications, Linux is fine. There are browsers, email programs, graphic design software, etc. Most of it them are free.

I find it a little more difficult to get answers to Linux questions, because I know fewer people who run it than Windows. But, I am constantly ‘mitchering’ with my machine, and that brings up situations most users wouldn’t get into.

I went to bed a happy man. My machine was humming along. This ugly duckling was now the fastest machine in the house. Life was good. And then, I woke up.

Hitting the power button brought nothing. No noise, no lights, nothing.

I had built this system in an old case with an older, weaker power supply. I can’t be sure, but my best estimation is the power supply was stressed with this new configuration. As it cooled, it broke down. A digital multimeter across the power pins showed no voltage anywhere.

My goal here was to keep costs down. Now, with the extra RAM, I was already $30 over my original cost. I could have spent $60 at CompUSA or Circuit City to get a new supply, but decided to log onto eBay and see what was available.

For $20, including shipping, I bought a 420 watt supply to replace the 230 watt model I’ve surely fried. It’s coming from California, so I’ll be without this machine for most of – maybe all – of the next week. My $100 machine is now $150.

Still, if the power supply is the problem, and if it boots up right away, this will be a great investment. For $150, a computer someone wanted to throw away, will be a screamer. And, I did it myself. It’s no big deal.

New Monitor – Again

This past summer, after staring at a CRT monitor ratcheted up to its maximum resolution, I bought a brand new Pixo AT700S monitor. My thought was, an LCD monitor would have a sharper look, use less power, and make me much cooler. Plus, the 17″ CRT at 1280×1024 was blinding me.

You may be wondering, why a Pixo? After all, Pixo isn’t the first (or fourteenth) name that comes off your tongue when thinking of monitors. My thought was, since I was going ‘digital’, a pixel is a pixel, so all monitors should be equal.

What a dumb thing to think. It’s absolutely wrong, of course.

First, an LCD monitor, though producing a specific number of discrete pixels, starts its life by translating your computer’s analog video output to digital. Anything lost in that translation is gone – never to be found again.

Also, even in the 21st Century, monitors are loaded with components. Each of these components has to stay within its design specifications if the monitor is to perform properly.

Right away, I could see that wouldn’t be the case with the Pixo. I’d use a test generator and align the monitor only to come back the next day and find the alignment point had moved.

Then, one day, after a few months of use, the monitor sent a large puff of white smoke skyward. It was as if it had elected a pope. In the room, and later the entire house, I could smell the telltale odor of a capacitor that had fried.

I brought the monitor back to Staples, where they gladly gave me another Pixo.

No problem. Back on my desk, looking good, until a few nights ago.

I was working on the laptop at the time, so the LCD monitor for the main computer only caught the corner of my eye. I wasn’t sure what it was at first, but I turned to see it brighten… and then dim… and the brighten again.

There are many things electronic components do very well. Healing isn’t one of them. I unplugged the monitor from my KVM (Keyboard, video, monitor) switch to see if it was the culprit. No change.

The problem came and went over the next few days. This morning, I had had enough. I was on my way to Cheshire to drop off Christmas gifts and figured I’d stop in at the Staples in Wallingford.

Long story short, the electronics guy at Staples didn’t seem surprised by the fate of my Pixo. He didn’t have any more, but he personally used an Envision (a name I’d actually heard before) and offered one to me at $60 more than I had originally paid.

I really didn’t want to buy a more expensive monitor, but I knew the Pixo was wrong for me. So, now on my desk is a lovely Envision EN-7100si.

The video is very sharp, though I’m not very impressed with the contrast. That, however, could be a driver or software problem, so I’ll hold judgment.

I see people using LCD screens all the time. They are quite cool and should look better than a CRT but only if they operate at their native resolution. 15″ monitors want to be at 1024×768. 17″ monitors need to have 1280×1024 resolution. If you’re not doing that (and most people seem not to) then the monitor is going to be smudgy, with dark grays where there should be black.

Oh – the Dell keyboard in the photo. I never thought a keyboard made much difference either. How many times can I be wrong in one entry?

Holy Smokes – Literally!

As I was sitting in front of my Pixo AT700 17″ LCD Monitor, white smoke began to pour out! Oh my God.

I often leave with the monitor turned on.

Back to Staples tomorrow.