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Saturday, October 24, 2009

You'll Buy a Widescreen Monitor and You'll Like It! 

Yesterday after school I came home and turned on my computer monitor. "Bpzzzt!" it said, as it often does (it's very old). But then, instead of showing my trusty Mac OS desktop, it stayed black. I tried again, and it flashed, then died.

Annoyed but simultaneously intrigued by the possibility of getting a shiny new (and perhaps somewhat larger) monitor, I drove off toward the east side of town, where the consumer electronics shops are all hidden. I quickly learned a very annoying fact: The only monitors being sold in retail shops today are widescreen. (16:9 ratio, compared to the previous standard 4:3.)

This really frustrates me, so I went to four different stores in the hope of finding a normal-shaped monitor. By the time I reached my fourth shop — let's call it by the fictitious name WorstBuy — I was really ticked off. As I stared angrily at the rack of 20 monitors, a chipper young man in a bright blue shirt approached and asked if I needed any help. Here is a verbatim transcript of our conversation:
WorstBuy Employee: Need any help with anything?

Me: Why don't you have any non-widescreen monitors?

WBE: Because they're all widescreen these days. That's the format all the screens and TVs and monitors are moving toward.

Me: Why?

WBE: Because of movies.

Me: But I don't watch movies on my computer. That's what my television is for. I use my computer for desktop publishing and website creation and browsing the web.

WBE: Well, everything's changing to the widescreen format these days. Movies and websites are also moving to widescreen.

Me: I'm going to leave now before I stab you and then myself. (muttering as I walk out) no such thing as a widescreen website .. illiterate bozo moron..
I also hear that radio is moving to widescreen format, so if you're one of those weird people who still listens to the radio in your car, you better get a widescreen radio soon. And books, too — books are going widescreen. (Diane and I have accepted that our dog does in fact have a widescreen head.)

I finally broke down and purchased (from a different store) the HP 2009m 20" LCD Monitor. When I got home, Diane told me that there was a Mac store near our home, and maybe I could call and make sure they didn't have any normal-shaped monitors. I did, and — after learning that the only monitor they sell is the $900 Absurdly Overpriced Display — tried again to ascertain why it's impossible to find a monitor shaped like a monitor, and not a movie screen. Here's part of our conversation:
MacXPert: They're better..

Me: Not for me! I don't watch movies on my computer. I do web design and desktop publishing.

MacXPert: I do too. Not to be contrary, but I like it better.

Me: Why? I'm really trying to understand where you're coming from.

MacXPert: Well, what I do is pretend it's not widescreen, and then..

Me: Okay, thanks for your time. (sound of me hanging up)
He said something about how he uses the other space for his iTunes or something, but I had to end the call before I started laughing obnoxiously in his face.

So there you have it, folks. If you don't plan to watch movies on your new widescreen monitor, you'll have to pretend like it's not widescreen. And then you can pretend that you don't get 20 spam emails every day. And then you can pretend that Bill O'Reilly had a horrible run-in with a wolverine and lost the use of his mouth.

To be honest, it's a very nice monitor, and it looks slick, and it takes up much less room on my desk than my ancient previous monitor. I think I'm relating to the items on the screen (and the words) a little differently now, because they're further away, and I'm at a different angle. So I'm not too unhappy with my purchase.

But I still wish it had a 4:3 ratio.

I did, however, strike instant paydirt when I did a Google search for "cool widescreen wallpaper". Check out this beauty (click for full-sized version):


Those who have worked in literature-related academia will appreciate this XKCD comic.

Today I'm listening to: Groove Salad!