How a Blinky Monitor Made Me More Productive – SyncMaster T260HD Blinking Problem – HDMI instead of DVI to Thunderbolt Mini Display

IMG_2077 I have a SAMSUNG SyncMaster T260HD Monitor hooked to my iMac as my second monitor. I’ve had it for about 5 or 6 years and I love it. Sometimes I wish it were a little bigger, but otherwise it’s perfect. It is a TV and a Monitor. I’ve used it as a TV a couple of times in it’s history, but for the most part, it’s been my second monitor while I work.

The other day, it just started blinking. It would go completely dark and then almost immediately come back on. Sometimes it would stay dark a little longer than others. And sometimes it wouldn’t blink at all for a while. Then it would start again.

I did a few Google searches. The only thing I found about any similar problems was to replace the capacitors in the monitor which meant taking it apart and soldering, etc. I didn’t want to go to those lengths. I started looking at monitors thinking maybe the monitor was going out.

Before I went to that expense, I decided to do more troubleshooting. I have two thunderbolt ports on my computer. I tried both. Still the same blinking. I was hoping it wasn’t my iMac since I just bought it a couple of months ago and it’s a pain in the rear to pack this thing up and carry it back to the Apple store.

IMG_2078I decided to switch out the DVI cable to see if that was the problem. I had a thunderbolt-to-DVI adapter hooked to a DVI cable that hooked to the monitor. This worked rather well for me until it didn’t. I liked the fact that when the computer went to sleep, the monitor would go to sleep. I didn’t have to even think about the monitor. It just worked. But, working between blinks just wasn’t working for me any longer.

I bought a new DVI cable at Best Buy for around $20. Problem solved. Or so I thought. That worked for about 2 days. Then all of a sudden, blinking again. Booo! 🙁

Next I tried another thunderbolt-to-DVI adapter. That seemed to work, but it was a little loose and short and I decided that since it wasn’t the DVI cable I should take that cable back and get one that didn’t need an adapter. I looked for thunderbolt to DVI cables and found some on Amazon. But, in the process of looking I also found thunderbolt to HDMI cables.

I did a little more Googling to see what would work best. I found that HDMI was sometimes thought better than DVI and also provided audio to the monitor. Not really something I needed but if the picture was better, then it might be worth it. So, I bought the thunderbolt-to-HDMI cable on Amazon for less than $15. Since I have Prime shipping, it was here in 2 days. I had no blinking in those 2 days so I assume that the problem really was in that first thunderbolt-to-DVI adapter.

I hooked the thunderbolt-to-HDMI cable in as soon as it arrived. I couldn’t really tell a difference. Well, the picture looked a little better, but I had also changed some of the settings on the SyncMaster in the process of trying to figure out what might be wrong, so I can’t say that the better picture is directly related to the cable. But, it is a better picture and I’m happy with it.

I did have a few unexpected changes though. First, I have my computer to announce the time on the hour. This helps to pull me from my head if I’m deep into ‘for’ and ‘while’ loops and need to remember to eat or go to an appointment. It just helps me keep up with my day.

The first time Mr. Computer told me it was 8 o’clock from the monitor instead of from the speakers hooked to my computer gave me quite a shock. I almost hit the ceiling. My speakers hooked to the computer are on the floor just a bit away from the desk, so I’m not used to someone shouting at me from the desk. Apparently hooking up the cable moves the audio to the monitor. I went into my settings and changed it back so I could get the sound through my Bose speakers again.

Then, I left my computer to go work out. When I came back, the monitor was still on. The computer had gone to sleep and the monitor had the blue box that said something about ‘no input detected’. Another big blue box announced that I was on ‘HDMI’. Well, that would definitely cause some screen burn if I don’t find a way to make it sleep. I was disappointed that my new cable wasn’t going to work out so well.

I started looking at settings on the monitor and never did find one that would make the screen sleep or that would kick in a screensaver, but I did find a sleep timer. I decided to try that out and set it for 60 minutes. Sure enough, in 60 minutes the monitor just went black. I decided it was time for a break anyway. I can set the timer longer, but what I’ve found is that knowing the screen is going to go black in 60 minutes causes me to be more productive.

I’ve heard some of my peers say that they go to coffee shops without their computer cord so that when the battery runs out, they have to get up and leave. That makes them be more productive knowing that they have a limited amount of time to get their work done. I can see why now.

Yes, it’s easy to just turn the monitor back on and reset the timer, but by the time I’ve done that, my concentration is broken and I’m ready for that break I needed anyway.

I’ve also found that by taking the break out of my head every hour makes me fresher when I get back to it. Those little breaks where I go put in a load of laundry, go to the bathroom, grab a snack, take out the trash, get another cup of coffee, or whatever needs to be done, gives my brain time to think about whatever I’ve been working on so deep in thought. I come back with new perspectives and new answers to my coding problems. Fresher. More ready to tackle it again.

So, the thunderbolt-to-DVI has solved more problems than just a blinky monitor and I think I’ll keep it.

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