July 22nd, 2008



The day before yesterday I was playing City of Heroes when my monitor suddenly went black. I checked the PC and I could still hear it running, so it didn't simply turn off. I rebooted (the hard way, holding the power button for 8 seconds) and the monitor came back on and everything was fine for around 3 minutes when the monitor froze. I tried again, same way, and this time the monitor simply said "cannot read digital signal". One more time and got back to the 3 minutes ok, then freeze.

I turned the machine off for the night, thinking it could be overheating, the video card was going bad or the CPU was giving up the ghost. Yesterday I got canned air to clean out the machine and planned to switch to an analog cable to see if the problem was specifically digital. I blew a ton of dust out of the machine and cleared one of the screens on the back that had become completely covered in dust. Then I turned the monitor to gain access to the cables and lo and behold, the monitor cable had partially fallen out...

I'd priced out 2 machines yesterday: A Dell at $2100 and an HP at $1950. Fortunately, I think I won't need to buy either. I pushed the cable back in and everything seems to work fine. I started City of Heroes and was dismayed at the pixillation, but I'll try re-seating the cables on both ends and hope that makes a difference. I'd like to get 1 more year out of this machine. And at least now it is clean!

In a follow-up to yesterday's post about floppy disks, I went through the other box and managed to get rid of 90% of the disks in there. I now only have a few to check (comparatively) and will begin doing so as soon as I find the drive. I have a USB 3/5" external floppy drive, I just don't know where I packed it.

Old Technology

This past weekend I had my first experience with replacing fuses! The storm knocked out one of the fuses and we didn't notice for awhile because it controlled the lights in the bathroom, the bedroom closet and 1 socket and the sconce-lights in the bedroom. Of course this was the socket the AC was plugged in to, but since it was in the bedroom we didn't notice right away. The house just got hotter and hotter until emilytheslayer said "huh, the AC went out."

I figured it had shut off because of the storm, but I couldn't get it to turn back on, then we noticed the lights didn't work either. I went to check the fuses, knowing in advance thanks to the maintenance man changing the switchbox for our chandelier, that the fuses weren't labeled. I tested aech one in turn and when I found one that didn't shut anything off when I unscrewed it, I figured I'd found the culprit. I pocketed that fuse and headed to Home Depot.

I was in a bit of a hurry since it was 4:30 on a Sunday, but was quite pleased to find that Home Depot stays open until 7PM on Sundays. I'd noticed that half (of 4) the fuses were 15 amps and half were... something else. The other half weren't easily readable, but seemed to say "20". I checked with a Home Depot employee and indeed, they were 20. I also found there are two screw sized on that kind of fuse, fortunately before I left the store. I bought a box of 4 15 amp fuses and a box of 4 20 amp fuses. If we blow another fuse, I'm ready!

I got home and replaced the fuse and voila! ... nothing happened. I was confused. I unscrewed the fuse and put the original back in. Then I thought to try the 4th and final fuse. This one worked! Hooray! I think the top fuse controlled kitchen appliances and lights. The lights weren't on and I couldn't tell if the fridge shut off.

When I looked at the 4th fuse, it was obvious that it was indeed the one that had "blown" as there was a streak dividing the metal piece in the fuse and the metal piece was clearly no longer 1 piece. The AC was turned back on and we had a cool evening. And now I know how to identify and change fuses!