Wasted day

I obsessed all day over my failing monitor and its replacement. A new one is out of the question. It has to be at least a 21″ diagonal (known in metric Canada as a 21″ diagonal) monitor, because downgrades hurt worse than paper cuts.

The used monitors on eBay were disheartening. The shipping always gets you, and it looked like there was no acceptable screen for less than $150 (including shipping) to be had.

“Acceptable” is a key word. I am not an impulse shopper. I have to hunt down reviews and read testimonials and Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports wasn’t all that helpful – I could not access older reviews of CRT monitors, shoveled off to Limbo when the recent reviews of LCD monitors went live.

I’m a gamer, I need a CRT. LCDs still ghost too much with quickly changing images.

Then it occurred to me. I’m going to be in the US, so I could have a monitor shipped to my sister-in-laws and take it home with me. I spent the bulk of the day hunting down bargains. The best of the lot came from these guys. They have Cornerstone P1500 monitors for $99, with free shipping. Although not flat, it’s a decent monitor, but I was wary of the limited warranty. With monitors especially, you ideally should see what you’re getting. I kept hunting.

During a search for a review of some other monitor, the natural solution finally hit me.

I’m going to the Bay Area, the freakin’ most monitor-dense concentration of primates on the planet. And how do those primates discard used equipment? On freakin’ Craigslist. I’ve only read about a dozen stories on Craigslist over the last two weeks. The .ba folk throw used computer equipment at each other like monkeys throw feces. Check the link, the finely furred geeks hand out dozens of 21″ Trinitrons every week for a measly $40 apiece. And you can see a monitor in action before you hand over the cash.

I’m less concerned now. I just wish I’d thought of this before midnight. Allow me to share my belated wisdom.

Bonus apology to feed people:

I’m an editor, but a cocky one. That’s why you get multiple alerts.

My electronics are revolting

I have been the victim of some serious malfunctions in my office.

Yesterday, I sat down at my desk to find that my 21″ CRT monitor is ill. Along the left and right margins, the top third of the picture gets fuzzy as it goes up. The fuzziness on the left is orange and on the right is cyan. An additional symptom is ghosting of the image, particularly annoying in the top fifth of the screen.

Curiously, the orange/cyan effect is identical to the colour separation I get at extreme edges of my eyeglasses. If I look out the outer edge of the lens, I get the same orange ghosting; looking out the inner edge, things appear cyan. In fact, if I rotate my head 45 degrees away from the monitor and shift my eyes to look at it, the glasses compensate for the malfunctioning monitor.

This is an old monitor, and it’s going to cost a fortune to replace. I can’t work with my head at that angle.

A less expensive, but more annoying problem is the new cartridge of black ink in my Epson all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/coffee-maker. The ink just won’t flow. Sure, if I carefully remove the cartridge and shake it up, it will print four or five perfect pages – but I can’t keep doing that. It just tempts fate. I will end up with ink flooding the inside of the printer.

The least important and most fixable problem is a loose wire in my Thrustmaster RCS rudder pedals. It’s a simple matter to solder the wire back onto the pot, but first I need to find my soldering iron…. Without rudder pedals, I can’t play WarBirds, but I don’t need them for a tank in WWII Online, so it’s not a total crisis. In fact, I’m proud of two exquisite shots I made last night with the 75mm gun in my Panzer IV Ausf G. Twice I made first-shot kills on moving British tanks at a range of 1.8 km. I’m a proud grognard.

Bonus Google trivia:

Somebody found my site through a Google search for “donkey chasing pooping man”. This blog is the second link. I remain proud.

Netsurfer update

I finished all my correcting, submitted grades, and I have a good grasp of what JOUR 428 will turn out to be. Time for a Netsurfer Digest (NSD) update, prompted by a letter from one of its writers.

In short, I still have no idea what’s going on with NSD.

Now, the long version….

The way NSD has worked is I get the sites and Arthur has handled the Breaking Surf (BS) selections. Those two tasks have been completed more or less independently for each issue, although I get the BS to edit and incorporate once it’s done.

In August, Arthur started slacking off, and fell behind deadlines for BS. We started getting out an issue only every two weeks. At the time, Arthur wrote me to say he was moving his girlfriend, and that was why he was extra busy.

But that pattern continued. Finally, in November, Arthur stopped communicating altogether. He won’t respond to e-mail or phone calls from writers (I haven’t tried to call myself).

While none of us is in this for the money, I don’t think Arthur has paid the writers in 2005. In the spring, he claimed that he was moving to a bi-annual payment schedule, but he seems not have paid that out either. I get paid monthly, and the last payment I got was in June.

Now, Arthur has missed paying me in the past, but he’s normally a responsible guy. He has always made up missing payments. I used to see Arthur regularly when I lived in San Jose. He was honest and forthright, not a bullshitter at all. I’m a dedicated misanthropist, but I liked the guy. He promised me that if NSD was ever headed for the drain, he’d let me know well beforehand. He’s always claimed that NSD had at least a year’s worth of cash reserve to buffer bad times.

Well, Arthur hasn’t made up this year’s missing payments, and he’s essentially unreachable. I got in touch with Bill Woodcock, who is a Netsurfer founding partner and who hosts the Netsurfer machines. Bill has also had trouble getting in touch with Arthur. Obviously, something is up, but I don’t know what it is. I try not to let my paranoid fantasies get too far out of hand.

Coincidentally, I will be in the Bay Area Dec. 24 to Jan. 4. Bill and I have plans to meet and hunt down Arthur. Come January, I expect that NSD will be a known dead issue or a known live issue – either way, no longer a mystery. If it’s dead, though, what do we do?

The options, for me, are:

1) NSD dies, and forget it. Personally, I would miss NSD, but I can fill the missing time and money with freelance work.

2) Start a new venture to replace NSD. The problem with this is that I’m not really too techy. Arthur is the guy who coded mailing and PERL formatting scripts and whatnot – I’m purely content. We’d have to find a technically adept partner, and maybe a venture capitalist or sponsor to dump a wad of motivational cash. Alternatively, we can start a blog-like NSD thing. We can have writers and editor/moderators. It’s the cheapest option.

There’s also guarantee of success. How much can we make in ads? Enough to make this worthwhile? It hurts me non-MBA brain to think about stuff like this, but – light bulb over my head – I do have a bright tech friend who is a newly minted MBA. Maybe I should run this by him, if there’s enough interest among you.

Anyway, I’ll post the results of Bill and Webs’s excellent adventure in January.

Feel free to e-mail me (address in my profile) if you want to get together for sedatives and/or animal protein in the Bay Area.

Bonus screenwriting-industry-related funny:

While researching JOUR 428 content, I found Web designer/former copywriter Jeffrey Zeldman, who posted this hilarious conversation he had with a network marketer over an ad for a miniseries. It’s Part 38 of a series of ads that never ran.