04/11/2001

Mailbag:

DNS; Prices

I’d forgotten this utility. DisplayMate, like SpinRite, is a classic utility, independently made, and invaluable. Check it out at www.displaymate.com . Basically what it does is flash up a bunch of screens designed to bring out the worst in your monitor, then guide you through using the monitor’s controls to adjust them. The result is sharper text and brighter colors. Ideally a monitor should work optimally with all the controls except contrast set to 50%. Contrast should probably be at about 75%. But no monitor stays optimal at those settings for long.

Anyway… It’s about 70 bucks, and definitely worth it if you have more than one monitor. You can download a feature-limited demo and check it out. Even running the demo makes a difference.

Chip creep. I was flipping through some of my boss’ old PC repair books and I found a reference to “chip creep.” I immediately thought of Andy Grove–a creep who sells tons of chips. It turns out it was referring to the phenomenon where a chip works its way out of its socket due to expansion and contraction from heating and cooling resulting from powering the system off and on. Since components these days are soldered, you don’t see that anymore. But I remember in college, a neighbor’s 386 quit working one day. I popped the hood and found his BIOS chip literally sitting on top of its socket (one or two sets of pins were still making some sort of electrical contact). Cute. I pressed the chip back into place and the system worked again. Modern designs, where all chips are soldered into place, eliminate chip creep, though plug-in cards can still exhibit the problem to a degree.

Mailbag:

DNS; Prices

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