March 2001   
Who Will Fix Our Stuff?

by PAUL D. LEHRMAN

One of my computer monitors has been flaking out recently. At random intervals, one of the color circuits would fail, and my screen would turn a sickening pink. It's long past the warranty: It's one of those old, bright, Sony 19-inch jobs that weighs about 60 pounds and costs about $2,000 when it was made eight or nine years ago (I don't know exactly when I bought it used). At first, it would respond to what my friend Coleman Rogers calls "the Fonzie technique" referring to the Happy Days character who could fix anything, because he knew exactly where to whack it and how hard. But, as time went on, that became less reliable.

Fans of this column know how reluctant I am to part with old gear, and although I do like this monitor, it only displays at one resolution, and with all the different types of work that I do, I came to realize it was time to retire it and replace it with a brand-new, modern, lighter, multisync model, which I was able to acquire for the piddling sum of $350. But I figured that if I could get my old monitor repaired, then it would be nice to have an extra 19-inch monitor lying around. So I went through the phone book looking for "Macintosh monitor service" and found a place, located a distance away, but in an area I go to periodically, who promised to repair it for a fixed, payable-up-front fee of $165, assuming the tube was okay (which I knew it was). It would take two or three days, they said.

That was a month ago. I'm still waiting. They can't really tell me whether it's done. They tried it on a PC first, because they said they didn't have the right cable to try it on a Mac, and it didn't work at all. So I gave them my cable, as well as the Griffin sync adapter that has served me well on many Macs and on many monitors. They then told me that they had checked it out, soldered down everything they could see, didn't find any bad parts, but it was working differently on different Macs, so they weren't sure if they had fixed anything. Now, they're asking me to bring in my own Mac so they can "synchronize" it properly. That means dismantling my whole SCSI-rat's-nest-infested, sound-deadened computer closet, and letting them screw around with my main machine for a couple of days, while I am office-less and offline. Plus two special trips out there. They're being very nice about the whole thing, but as I write, we're at an impasse, although they do have the upper hand, because they have both my $165 and my monitor.

The rest of this column, along with 56 more, is now available in The Insider Audio Bathroom Reader, published by Thomson Course Technology PTR.

Copyright ©2006 by Paul D. Lehrman