(Dread) deadlines in adversity

Dealing with business after disaster strikes
By T Martin (as Escritor X)

I love that message during MS-Windows® installation that lets you know that a flickering screen during installation is normal. So reassuring, right?

On the other hand, I hate the flickering, distortion, discoloring and most recently, strange humming during normal operation that were symptomatic of a monitor blow-out!

The screeches you heard on Monday night, April 12th, could well have been the sudden halt that my ProView 18″ flat panel display made that day while I was out of the office. Or it could have been me, returning to the office at about 5:30 and finding that my favored LCD screen had given up the ghost just days before NorFilly Magazine’s April deadline.

Now I wonder: would this have been so bad two weeks ago when I wasn’t against deadline and had the money to have it repaired or replaced? Or would I have been just as frustrated about it?

Did I say frustrated? Let me explain. I have a history of breaking things technological. But usually, I’m able to recoup without a lot of hassle. For instance, I just received from Hitachi a replacement IBM 1GB Microdrive for a damaged one I sent them two weeks ago under warranty – for the second time!

I’ve had my share of breaking things for sure, but I prided myself on being able to come back with few battle scars. So besides the obvious working without my computer to get articles prepped for NorFilly Mag, where does the frustration come in?

Consider my conversation with ProView tech support in the midst of my despair: I called and indicated the monitor’s model number and purchase date. After telling me that ProView will charge me $35 for the phone call if there’s nothing wrong with the monitor, a tech support rep wants to walk me through this script to ensure I’m not talking out of my head.

Keep in mind, I’ve had lots of experience breaking equipment, so troubleshooting is now second nature to me. Everything the rep told me to do I had already done, but he was doing his job and I reluctantly gave in and followed his checklist… I mean, instructions.

“Unplug VGA from computer,” he told me. Did it. “OK, now you still plugged in wall? Unplug power from wall.” Did it. “Wait ten seconds.” Been there, done that. To top things off, he even counted down from 10 aloud for me, just in case I couldn’t track time either. “OK, now plug power back in wall.” Now what? “Don’t plug in VGA. Testing monitor only.” OK, I’m with you. “Now power on monitor. What happen?”

The problem was that the power light – amber when off, green when on – would flash green for about two seconds, and then would revert to amber. There wasn’t even a little message saying “Signal” or “Cable” to let me know that there was a VGA problem. Nothing. Zilch. He asked me to try turning the monitor on again. I did, and saw the same results. His diagnosis?

“OK, that means monitor no good. Is broken.” This – just days before I have to fire off a series of e-mails for publication – is what I spent 30 minutes on the phone long distance to find out.

At any rate, I’m pondering a new question: Is it worth the $165 plus shipping to have ProView recertify this already refurbished monitor? (I had sent it back before for problems with turning off during sleep mode.) Or do I avoid taking a chance on a chance and spring for a new, albeit CRT, monitor?

When I consider the cost of the name brand LCD panel I’d like to buy, I sweat a bit and decide to shell out the $165+ instead. Yet, when I think about the problems I’ve had with this Proview since first buying it, a newer 19″ pure flat CRT seems fairly attractive, too.

In either case, since this month I’m typing this without seeing what I’m doing, I hope to learn the lesson someone pointed out to me – backing up doesn’t have to refer just to hard drive disasters; it’s a good idea to have a plan, or in this case a monitor, in store for when this kind of thing happens. The beauty of hindsight…