It may seem ridiculous to be traumatized by losing a battle with technology, but that is how I feel after yet another miserable encounter.
I was self-indulgent yesterday and told readers about the death of my faithful, long-lived Apple monitor. Many were sympathetic both about my attachment to devices that do their job reliably and my aversion to new technology, since the upgrades entail at least some hassle, and too often, outright failure or some form of degradation of the functionality (the most common being feature bloat making it harder and more cumbersome to operate a program). Both in comments and via e-mail, readers offered suggestions about the sort of replacement monitor I should consider.
Since yesterday was one of the days when I have Lambert partially covering the site, I had some time off which I had planned to use to make a filing (more on this in due course) and perhaps also prep for my panel this week (topic: jump starting the economy, and as you can imagine, I object to the very premise!). Instead I diverted that to the monitor mission. I took two recommendations, did some more poking around on the Web regarding price and availability, and went off to Best Buy to have a look.
The selection on the floor was meager and none of the models I had flagged were on display. The store clerks were not terribly knowledgeable either. One of the monitors readers had recommended was at B&H, which was logistically not so hot but doable. At B&H, after a wait, I got a salesman who seemed helpful. We established that I’d be OK with a 24″ monitor (still more viewing height than my deceased monitor had) and I got a cheap Acer plus the needed adapter cable.
I get home and assemble the monitor. The adapter cable is wrong, so I have to run to the Best Buy to get the right one. I assemble everything. I get a spark when I plug in the power, which also sometimes happens when I plug in my Macbook Air (note I run it off the power on a routine basis, and this happens on a surge protector). But this spark seems to have killed the monitor, or else it was defective to begin with.
Clive, having read the shorter version of this sorry tale in comments yesterday, noted:
I’m starting to think your building is like the one in Ghostbusters (the Ground Zero of poltergeist activity). Either that, or the wiring is thoroughly disreputable.
I had forgotten how bad my wiring is, precisely because I now have equipment that can handle it. Or more accurately, had, since one of the survivors had been the old Apple Studio monitor.
I live in the oldest residential elevator building in Manhattan. It has grandfathered power, meaning it is not up to modern code. For instance, half of the circuit breakers for my apartment are fuses. The practical effect, from what I can infer, is that the power is spikier, as in it fluctuates much more, than “modern” power.
Some of the consequences:
Light bulbs, including halogens certified to last two years, die all the time
I don’t have any wireless routers or modems because when I tried getting a wireless DSL modem/router early on, all three that Verizon sent failed within a week.
Every LCD monitor I had except for the recently deceased Apple (all of two, admittedly, aside from the Acer that fell over) has had an extremely short life. One was an IBM (and fabulously expensive) and I think it lasted at most 6 months. The other was a cheap TV monitor. Since I never watch TV (only the Triple Crown and C-Span a couple of times before I concluded I did just as well on my computer), I turned it at most 20 times. For a monitor to die with under 30 hours of use seems awfully premature.
When I had a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) it would turn off and on all time. I mean ALL THE TIME, as in it was making those clicking/alarm noises way more than 60 times a minute during the summer when air conditioners were in use. It was very aggravating and distracting (and if memory serves me right, I did try using some of the devices that were power-sensitve, like those wireless routers, with the UPS. Didn’t help). Remember, the purpose of a UPS is NOT to smooth unstable power, it is to turn on fast enough when power drops in an outage to prevent devices from tuning off (which means getting a UPS doesn’t solve the problem, it only at best alleviates it. And yes, all my electronics sit on surge protectors).
So I am now worried that no LCD monitor will work for any decent length of time, save maybe the horribly costly Apple monitors. I recall in my days of having a NeXT that Steve Jobs insisted on having much better power controls on his devices than was normal. That was true of my 2002 monitor. But even if I were to pay the insane premium for a Mac monitor, I’m not sure that this is still true (in other words, I could be buying the Apple product under false premises). And since I’ve been hit with a raft of unexpected expenses, this isn’t the best time to throw money at a problem casually.
So that is a very long-winded way of saying if readers have any insight into which LCD monitor manufacturers are known for having robust power systems, I’m all ears. Otherwise, I have no idea how to proceed. I can’t afford the upset of wasting 6 hours (which is where I will be after I return the non-working monitor) a second time.