Thursday, March 11 2010
Facebook is one of the least useful places I spend my time, but today it proved unusually entertaining when I discovered the Bad Tattoo Hall of Shame, the most comprehensive such place on the web. What makes this site better than the non-Facebook alternatives is the primacy of comments in the verbiage accompanying each photograph. The commenters are mostly professional tattoo artists, so their take on things tends to be laconic, well-reasoned, and amusing. Somehow I wiled away more than an hour looking at bad tattoos and experiencing a sick form of anonymously-directed schadenfreude. It was actually a lot like watching Intervention. "At least my problems are not of that order of terrible."
Before noon, Ray showed up for his several-day work week in the Upstate restaurant industry. A careful reader asked me the other day if he'd divorced Nancy, and no, that's not what happened. Both Ray and Nancy are in the process of transitioning to an Upstate life, but they're very slow and deliberate when it comes to change in their lives. So Ray still still lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn and only works Upstate, staying in our Gunther room when he does so. The biggest recent change in his life is actually dietary. He's been a vegan for more than two months now, a little longer than me.
For the past couple weeks I've had a slight problem with one of my two Samsung Syncmaster 204B monitors, one of which range in age from 3.5 to 4 years. When it comes out of power down, the backlight has been flickering for about a minute or so until it warms up. I knew this to be a power supply problem, but Jesus, did this mean I was going to have to buy some expensive replacement board on eBay? Maybe I should just buy a new monitor. That's what our wasteful society would recommend.
But it didn't take much internet research to discover that this is a common problem with Samsung LCD monitors manufactured in China, and it always manifests when the monitor is between three and four years of age. It turns out that the problem is the short half lives of the cheap Chinese electrolytic capacitors used in these monitors' power supplies. There are seven electrolytic capacitors in a 204B, and they're manufactured by a company named CapXon (known by electronics enthusiasts as CrapXon). It turns out that most problem 204Bs can be fixed by replacing all seven of these capacitors, though supposedly C110 and C111 are the worst offenders.
Today I took delivery of two sets of replacement capacitors (for both my 204Bs, though as of now only one needs them), and I immediately went to work fixing my troubled monitor. These monitors are not easy to take apart; the bezel around the screen must be popped-off, and this isn't easy to do without marring the plastic. I fashioned a special tool from an old credit card, whose edge I filed into a sharp blade. This allowed me to pop the bezel off and gain access to the innards without breaking anything. Once inside, the capacitors were easy to replace with a simple soldering iron. I didn't need to use either a desoldering iron (which I have) or desoldering braid (which I've never had or used). As with the guy who created the page you reach from my last link, both C110 and C111 were bulging badly in my monitor, and one of them might have even been leaking.
I experienced difficulty getting the monitor to work again owing to the fussiness of the main connector attaching the screen to its controller board, but once I had that problem fixed (tape helped), the monitor seemed to work perfectly. But it will take some days before I can say for sure whether or not the problem I was trying to fix has been completely eliminated.
After work today, Gretchen continued south down to Maryland, where she'd be staying at her parents' house over the weekend to attend a poetry conference. This meant we wouldn't be together to watch this week's American Idol voting results show. So we synced our watching by telephone, both of us using DVRs to watch the show while skipping over the commercials. It actually proved easier to do than I'd expected it to. I could hear the audio Gretchen was hearing over the phone, and more often than not it sounded like a close echo of what I was hearing. Ray got back from his waiter shift at the start of this synchronized viewing, so he watched along with us.
Ray went to bed early and I stayed up late watching Mommie Dearest and Dahmer, two flawed movies that I found both poignant and entertaining.
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