DIY: The $15 Monitor Fix

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What happens when good monitors go bad

The $15 Monitor Fix, it ain't pretty but it does work.

Oh, my poor suffering laptop. In the five years I’ve owned it I’ve drown it in Oolong, infected it with viruses, used it, abused it and neglected it like a guy who followed me home from a bar. However, unlike that guy, I still need to use my laptop. When my monitor started to give out last December, showing streaks of purply, vibrating pixilated lines through the screen, I was far from surprised – but I wasn’t about to give up and spring for a new ‘puter.

Instead I went for the smarter, cheaper option: I found a friend who was willing to not only give me the spare monitor he had kicking around for free but also gave me a ride home with it (thanks again Jon!). Then I snagged a $15 VGA cable from Office Depot, booted up the laptop to it and covered my electric-acid laptop monitor display with a piece of black construction paper so I don’t have to look at the crappy mess. Now I had my machine hooked up and displaying nicely to an external monitor. Cake. Now granted, my laptop has morphed into a jerry-rigged desktop but it’s better than going through the hassle of finding a new machine and transferring all my documents, pictures, music, bookmarks, software, porn, etc. to a new machine.

You can do it too: Finding a free monitor is as easy as checking the free listings on Craigslist '“ or taking a walk through any neighborhood where residents will street their unwanted belongings. To boot up, just connect the monitor to your system with the VGA cable, hold down your LCD/monitor button with the function key and you’re in business. Now your laptop is just as fly as mine.

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Amber Bouman - Crafty & Cashless

Amber Bouman - Crafty & Cashless

A freelance writer, blogger and poet based in San Francisco, Amber has written for PC World, InfoWorld, and the 16th & Mission Review. She has performed at City Hall, Litquake, the Brainwash, 16th & Mission, BlueSix, and SFSU among other places. Amber is also consummate fan of swearing, organizational freak, yoga practitioner, music geek, caffeine addict, and tattoo enthusiast who enjoys platform shoes, making out, thumb wrestling and fighting the good fight. She owns a bicycle named Gretel, a motor scooter named Elroy and a cat named Simon. She can be found in various virtual locations all over your interwebs.