A small but relevant victory against the dark forces of the techno-world.
By Jerry Gervase
Few things intimidate me more than shopping for technical equipment. The reason is the know-it all pre-millennials that work in the big box techno stores. If you are of a certain age, you know of whom I speak – those card-carrying geeks from the galaxy YouTube who live on the planets WhatsApp and Instagram. Whenever I need technical assistance they seem to automatically categorize me as having Jurassic DNA because I was born before Al Gore invented the Internet.
I am not a technology wizard. I am keyboard literate, which qualifies me as someone who is able to press the start button on my computer. It’s the same with cars. I know how to drive one but never relish looking under the hood. There are snakes there and things that go bump in the night. With my computer I have a deep-seated fear that someday I’ll depress the “delete” key and my monitor will be staring at an empty chair.
I know I benefit from technology even if I don’t understand it. Still, dealing with techno-gadgets is not as daunting as buying techno-gadgets. Several weeks ago my computer monitor blinked and went into a coma. I immediately took emergency action by banging on it with the rubber mallet that I use to fix my TV when many of its pixels pirouette off the screen. But the monitor refused to be roused from its deep sleep. Next I spent two hours on the phone with Tiffany in Uzbekistan – 90 minutes of which she spent apologizing for my trouble and swearing on the soul of her camel that she would solve the problem. Alas, Tiffany couldn’t. I needed a new monitor.
What can be easier than going to your local Big Box Technology Universe Super Store Warehouse and walking out with a monitor? Let me tell you what would be easier – knowing what women want would be easier – but that’s another column.
It had been awhile since I visited a high-level Computer/TV/Camera multi-data information super store. It was like walking onto the planet Neon. Lots of purple, puce, yellow and blue-green neon tubes flashed while music at a decibel level surpassing the jackhammer section of a construction symphony assaulted my eardrums. I thought I had walked into half time at the Super Bowl.
I saw about 150 huge flat screen television sets all showing crazy people in multi-colored wing suits soaring between mountain crevices in Alpine settings.
I didn’t see any computer monitors. Finally, a tall young man named Chad who was wearing a blinking name badge that identified him as a multi-media technical consultant approached me.
“Hi, I need a computer monitor,” I said to Chad, who had two piercings in his lower lip. Maybe the piercings have something to do with Wi-Fi connectivity.
“What aspect ratio and viewable area are you looking for? You should have at least a 16:9 aspect ratio.” Chad’s snow-white teeth were reflected in his lip piercings.
“Well, from any aspect I want to view the whole screen.”
Chad smiled uncertainly. “I see,” he said, “how about Native Resolution, then?”
“You mean my monitor’s bad ju-ju? I thought the problems with natives had reached resolution years ago.” Chad’s eyebrow piercings began to twitch.
“Surely you know,” he said, rubbing his hands together like he was a fly and I were a cube of raw sugar, “that you need a .28 dot pitch or better.”
“You measure dot pitch as the distance between holes in the shadow mask.” I must have looked blank because Chad went into his “earth-to-dummy” mode.
“You do know about the shadow mask, don’t you?”
“Aha? Yes. I remember the Shadow – Lamont Cranston. He wore a mask and knew what evil lurks in the hearts of men.”
Spittle began to form at the edge of Chad’s mouth; and rivulets of perspiration were flowing in the deep furrows of his brow. It was obvious he had come face to face with the most dreaded customer possible – a senior citizen. It was a moment before he spoke again.
“You do own a computer, sir?”
“Yes, of course, I do.”
“What kind is it?”
“It’s the kind with a big black box and a TV-type monitor. That’s why I’m here. I need a monitor. You do know what monitors are, don’t you?”
Suddenly Chad was speaking incoherently in a high-pitched voice quite like Barney Fife’s. He turned slowly and disappeared behind an “Employees Only” door. Like the Shadow, I had clouded Chad’s mind and he could no longer see me.
I selected a 19” monitor with a contrast ratio of 3000:1 and a response time of 2ms. I carried it to the checkout counter where Chad’s tongue-pierced sister waited to assist me.
There was another tech consultant at the exit. He asked me if I found everything I was looking for.
“No I said. “So I got this instead.”
“Good to know we helped you,” he said without looking up from his smart phone. Have a nice day.”
“Sorry, I have other plans.”
“That’s great,” he said while he kept right on texting.