don't just return
Friday, July 23 2010
The big new HDTV television in the teevee room opens the possibility of watching internet-derived movies in the comfort of a non-office environment. (I've watched movies at my computer, but conditions tend to be too distracting and uncomfortable there for the watching of a feature-length movie.) So I've decided to dedicate one of my computers for use as an entertainment media device. (The computer in question is a modern one based on an Atom 330 processor; my original plans for it had been to make it into an audio media player for the living room.) Yesterday I'd taken delivery of a tiny case to put the Atom 330 motherboard in, so yesterday I started building the media computer. From the start, though, this computer manifested all sorts of flakiness. It would stay on for awhile and then die, only to recover. It seemed at first that the subminiature power supply was bad, but today I figured out that the problem was a bad solder on a power cable connecting that power supply to the back of the case. This was easy for me to remedy, but most people would have had to send the case back (something I will do my utmost to avoid).
I'd also taken delivery of a replacement for an increasingly-flaky LCD monitor, an auxillary panel above my two main monitors where I keep my media player and FTP windows. At 1920 X 1080, this new panel has the largest pixel count of any monitor I've ever used (excluding our new HDTV). It's a 25 incher made by I-Inc, a cutrate Chinese exporter with almost no web presence. Evidently their quality control is not up to Western standards, because my monitor hadn't been completely screwed together and the front bezel was loose with respect to the rest of it. That was easy to remedy, but today when I decided to carefully examine the new monitor's picture quality, I found four imperfections, each about the size of a gnat. These weren't dead pixels; they were places where either the back illumination was disturbed (by debris?) or the polarity of light passing through the LCD was bent. I did some web research on this problem, nobody else seemed to have it. Then again, the amount of web-expressed ignorance about LCD monitors is enormous. When people post to messageboards about problems with their LCDs, it's common for others to warn about the placement of speakers and other sources of magnetic fields, and this ignorant advice is rarely corrected. (LCDs, unlike CRTs, are completely immune to magnetic fields.) I suspect that most of the reported cases of "dead pixels" with I-Inc monitors is actually the problem I'm experiencing. It might just be that Chinese slave laborers are sneezing on the panels during a crucial stage of manufacture. In any case, the problem isn't severe enough for me to send the monitor back.
I've probably mentioned this before, but one thing I notice about Apple messageboards versus non-Apple messageboards is that people with Macintoshes talk a lot about their warranties and their solution to most of their problems is sending back the offending hardware (no matter how minor the defect) and getting a replacement. People without Macintoshes, on the other hand, are far more likely to find or improvise a fix. It's the fixes that interest me. I want to stay away from the culture of return and replace as much as possible, even when my shit is under warranty (though it almost never is). I've noticed, though, that it's becoming more and more common to get broken or otherwise defective things when ordering online, and if there were more people like me out there, the problem would only get worse.
Tonight Gretchen and I went to the opening of a group show at a gallery in Rosendale. The plan was to go there with our new friend Christie and then meet up with Deborah. But both Christie and Deborah ended up canceling on us due to "sickness." The show was fun not because of the art, but because of the crowd of interesting-looking people who showed up. Refreshments consisted of a bottle of wine and a keg of Keegan Ale's Old Capital (the closest thing to Budweiser that our local microbrewery makes, though with a few sips you realize it's actually somewhat better).
For dinner, Gretchen and I went to the High Falls Café, which wasn't easy to get to because of a long elaborate detour around a part of Route 213. The High Falls Café usually has live music on the weekend, and tonight was no exception. Unfortunately, we arrived for the part of the evening during which soundchecks happen, and we got awefully tired of hearing "Testing testing check check one two three."
The veggie burger and fries are what I get at a place like the High Falls Café, and they're really good (though their chilli, which I also ordered, is a tad too sweet). Sadly, they had no beers that really interested me. I've become an IPA snob, and they had none whatsoever in their options. In the end I got a Ten Penny Ale, but I found it to be a bit too vinegary.
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