Recently one of my monitors at work was refusing to go on in the morning. I’ve got two: a Samsung SyncMaster 940T and an HP L1950. Its sort of a wierd setup in that the (now quite old) PC I’m using came with a single VGA output, so I ended up buying an add-on DVI card, but I usually end up with whatever parts are left over after deploying stuff and I could only scam one DVI screen so I’ve got one VGA and one DVI screen hooked up. The problem was that every morning the screen was blank but the power light was blinking in a sort of double flash pattern. There was no message on screen for “No Signal”, and I know now that the blue light means that I was getting signal, but the monitor couldn’t display it.
We didn’t ever watch that much TV anyway, so I don’t see canceling cable TV as much of a loss, but there is definitely a feeling of isolation without any TV access and if an emergency were to occur it would be nice to be able to tune in. Well, TV is still being broadcast over the air though it recently went digital. We applied for the DTV converter box at the time (anticipating this move) and I hauled it out to see what we could pull in. I only really wanted one particular channel – Channel 21 out of Garden City (about 25 miles away), PBS. Channel 21 in digital TV land is now three channels (21-1, 21-2, 21-3) and it would be really nice to watch the News Hour once in a while (and not having to stream it over the internet which you can do). It would be especially nice since we’ve actually pledged to the station over the years and now we can’t receive it at all.
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We recently decided to cancel our cable TV service. At $75/mo for what they consider BASIC service, it just wasn’t a good *value*. We still have internet service through the cable company, and that product has been very good. After waiting for an hour on the phone to complete the cancellation, the high pressure sales guy I got transferred to at the ‘disconnect desk’ asked me what he could do to keep me as a customer. I said I’d like to pick which channels I wanted to pay for – I could rattle them off, but suffice to say there are definitely a few (even after the recent cancellation of the Food channel) that I wish I could tune into once in a while. He laughed and said “nobody offers an ala carte option!”
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The weather was glorious, about 65 degrees F (I prefer days that aren’t so hot), and I got over to CP for a morning ride on Saturday. There weren’t too many folks there when I arrived, maybe 5 or 6 vehicles. Its only the third time I’ve been over there this season, and the second time I went I rode with a friend late after work and we only did 6.5 miles and one Black Diamond. This time I was going to hit them all and try to make it under an hour. The whole trail is about 9 miles when you do all the optional routes, and at the end of last season I was able to complete it in about 50 minutes if I booked. I’m rusty though, as I could tell from my first time marker (3 minutes over), but I wasn’t tiring, so I decided to attempt to do all three of the impossible hills in the back. I never make the first one, but the CLIMB guys had lain down some wood chips and the trails were really dry, and for the first time (ever) I made all three hills! I finished at 1 hr 7 mins, but it was a good ride. The new XTR high-rise dérailleur makes a big difference on the climbs, making it alot easier to get into the right gear on the way up.
After I came back to work after the holiday, there were several mysterious system failures to investigate. The solutions ranged from the ridiculously simple (it was unplugged) to the arcane (no display, no boot-up, no beep codes). Unfortunately this last was on a fairly important machine used for software development in the engineering department. It took just a few minutes to eliminate most of the possible causes for this problem (tightening cables, unplugging USB devices, reseating memory, etc.) and I soon had the machine booting into Windows but the system process was running at 99% and it was basically unusable. The user claimed that there had been a Windows update on the last day before holiday and I suspected that the machine had been turned off in a rush mid-update (or there was some virus at work). I certainly couldn’t prove either yet, and it didn’t matter. The user notoriously forgets to check in code and it was imperative that I get all data off immediately and over to a working machine so work could continue, plenty of time for post-mortem after the user was back in business.