email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fun With Monitors

Soooo, I bought this new monitor for the old PC I use only to play Civilization 2 (and maybe retrieve some old files and photos from AND it has MS Paint which I've always liked for creating greeting cards).  At 19.5" diagonal, and 16:9 aspect, its bigger than the monitor on my "real" computer (the fast internet one).  But I needed one that had the older-style connections (male, D, 15 pin plug, so I didn't have a lot of choices). 

Opening the box, I found warranties in several languages, a page of disclaimers, a page of warnings, and a CD.  No set up instructions...  Those were on the CD.  Um, how do you read a CD if you dont have a working monitor?  How often do YOU replace a working monitor with a new one?  Plus there was a page that said if the monitor did not receive a working video input it would turn on.  I had to think about that later...

Fortunately, the monitor was good for both PCs and Macs, so I could load the CD in the Mac while I set up the monitor on the CD.  The CD PDF manual was pretty pathetic.  Even though I could choose among languages to read it in, there were mostly just pictogram instructions.  One instruction said to repeatedly press the f8 button while booting up to get to a "safe screen" and and a page of possible ways to get to setting up the monitor.

Nothing happened...  Which could either mean the plugs weren't connecting, the monitor wasn't compatible, I had a "too old" version of Windows (and how can you find out if there is no monitor to click on the Windows icon to see what Windows version you have?), and how do you know the electrical cable is working if the monitor won't even light up?

BLEH!  It was a real Catch-22*

Fortunately I saw a PFD-manual reference to a small LED light that would show a working connection to the computer.  I didn't find one, but feeling around the bottom of the monitor frame I found a  pinhead-sized plastic button hidden about as well as possible.  I pressed it.  The monitor lit up (HOUSTON, WE HAVE LIFT-OFF).

The brief printed guidelines were COMPLETELY false.  NONE of the setup instructions had anything functional about them.  The manufacturer probably fired the person who wrote the instructions for the 3-generation previous version and never had them rewritten.

The instructions DID have some useful guidelines for setting the screen resolution and aspect choices.  IF you figured out that they were in the wrong order.  If I was new to this stuff, I would have returned the monitor to the store as "non-functioning"...

Then I turned on the Civilization 2 game I use the PC for.  The colors were HORRIBLE!  Dark, blurry, and the text was unreadable.  OK, little habit here.  I often just squat in front of the computer rather than bother with a chair.  I often did my computer work at the office and home squatting, standing, etc because I am restless and hate to just SIT.  But when you stand or sit a lot, squatting  puts a different tension on the leg muscles that can be relaxing.

So image my surprise when I stood up and the computer colors suddenly became perfect, then "too light".  This monitor is apparently very direct "square-on" to be color-correct".  I was angry!  I went to the Mac and loaded up a full screen color photo and tried the same "from squatting to standing" examination.

I was shocked!  It did the same thing.  Then, with some testing, I realized that the situations where I squatted to use the Mac were for reading email and that is in black and white.  When I am doing lengthier work, I sit.  Try it yourself; with a full color photo on the screen look at it from below to middle to above.  Do the colors change severely?  Mine do.

So, when I use the old PC to play the Civilization 2 game, I will be sitting in a chair with the monitor aimed directly at me for proper colors.

It shouldn't have been that hard.  Of all the parts of a desktop computer, the one part that OUGHT to be utterly "plug and play" is the monitor.  If it doesn't just "come on" automatically, its really frustrating,  And useless.

*  If you don't know what a "Catch-22" is, its a situation where one is trapped between conflicting rules from which there is no escape.  Catch-22 is a novel by Joseph Heller about absurd situations in WWII.  The title was originally Catch-18 but was changed because of a then-recently published book Mila 18, then changed from Catch-11 because of a movie Ocean's Eleven, then changed from Catch-17 because of the movie Stalag 17, then not Catch-14 because "14" wasn't considered a "funny number", finally landing on Catch-22 for the duplication of "2" which seemed to fit the duplication concept AND "2" standing for the deja vu situations in the book.  I knew some of that, but got more from Wikipedia...  Didn't want to do a "Rand Paul" here.


Mariodacatsmom said...

Ah yes, instruction books!! They are almost worthless. I wish companies would wise up and actually let the common Joe/Jane test those books before they put them into publication. We've had many major struggle over here. At least we have our son-in-law to keep our computer up and running, otherwise we would be without one. But it doesn't make any difference what the manual is for either - camera, TV, Computer - they are all hard to understand.

Megan said...

I get so frustrated when I can't get things to work. I feel pathetic and useless. I really wish that manufacturers would invest a bit more time and money in making instructions as close to idiot-proof as they possibly can instead of trying to do it on the cheap.

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