[TOOLS] monitors and stuff

Subject: [TOOLS] monitors and stuff
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2012 12:53:48 -0500

If you don't have two monitors, or if you have two that always work perfectly, stop reading.

I have a couple of DELL monitors at my office, that are fed from my company laptop via a docking station. Those displays always work perfectly.

I often take the laptop home and work from there... er, from here...
(I'm at home today). No docking station.
Since I liked the two-display environment so much, I did it at home, too.
One DELL U2412Mb, connected via HDMI, and one Samsung P2770-something, if that matters, connected via good old VGA connector (the only other video-out connector on this laptop).

Anyway, I acknowledge that the Samsung is the lesser monitor, but still
I was miffed that the display image would start shivering and jiggling
for no apparent reason. It was big and bright and sharp... and wouldn't
stay still. Then it would. Then it wouldn't. Stability would come and go.
I put up with it for weeks and weeks, trying to discover the cause.

It invariably got worse after the room was cleaned - items on desk would
get shifted around a bit for dusting purposes.

I would scurry about, in a flurry of connector-tightening, and SOMEtimes
get an improvement. A few times, the problem was in force when I rebooted
or shut down several applications on the laptop, and then the display jiggling
would stop... for a while.

I thought of buying expensive cables. I thought of replacing the Samsung.

Just today, it finally clicked. The laptop sits closed, toward the left side of my desk.
The HDMI connector is on the left side, and the VGA connector is on the left
back corner. The Dell display is behind the laptop, on the left of the desk, with the
Samsung to its right.

So-o-o-o, the two video cables exit the laptop and run side-by-side for a few inches
before the HDMI goes up to the DELL's connector and the VGA cable continues
in front of the DELL, until it turns upward to connect to the Samsung.

"Aha!" I hear some of you say.
Yes, it took me a while to clue in.
The VGA cable (despite having a ferrite bead on EACH end) was picking up
interference from the DELL. As soon as I rerouted the VGA cable to pass
farther away from the DELL, the display-jiggling on the Samsung ceased. YAY!

While we're on this kind of topic...
I also have a wireless mouse at home. It connects over the air to a transceiver
USB fob plugged into the laptop.
Once again, I was having signal-related problems. The mouse would register
erratically, even though the USB fob was in a USB port on the right-hand side
of the laptop, and the mouse was mere inches away, also on the right-hand
side of the laptop.
I could usually improve the performance and reliability by replacing
the mouse battery, but wa-a-a-ay too often.
Finally it hit me. The mouse is on a slide-out keyboard-mouse tray, under
the main desktop surface. I often have employer equipment and its cables
on the desk beside the laptop. OR ... I have a chocolate bar... in a foil wrapper.

Some of y'all have already caught on. The cables or metal boxes or metal-foil
wrapper, coming between the fob and the mouse were attenuating the tiny
RF signal that the two use to communicate. As soon as I ensured that there was
no metal intruding between the USB fob on the laptop, and the mouse on the
keyboard tray (only some air and the thickness of the desktop (wood)), the
mouse began behaving properly and reliably, and hasn't needed a battery
change in months.

I hope this helps save somebody some frustration... or money.


- kevin

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