A tale of two cables – and a fair bit of cursing…

By | April 4, 2022

Technology.  It’s a wonderful thing – until it goes wrong… and it’s been doing a lot of going wrong for me lately.  And I have to confess, I’ve been putting off fixing the problems.  (I’m sure there’s a phrase about “cobbler’s children” and “shoes” in there somewhere.)

But the last straw was on Thursday.  Alastair came home from school with some homework to do (research for a science fair project) and he needed the computer.  He switched it on, I heard it start to hum away happily, and then there was a confused-sounding cry of “Mum!”.  You know when you get that sinking feeling?…  

The computer was on but there was nothing on the monitor.  I turned the monitor off and back on again – “no connection”.  Oh, it must have come unplugged, I thought.  So I checked the cable and it was still firmly plugged in at the monitor end.  

With much cursing and tying myself in knots, I got at the back of the computer – unplugged the other end of the cable, plugged it back in again, tried again.  Nothing.  Unplugged both ends of it again, blew on the pins in case there was dust trapped somewhere, tried again.  Nothing.

I was sorely tempted to give up at that point, turn the dratted thing off and deal with it… erm… later.  But I screwed my courage to the sticking place, sent Alastair off to do his homework on my work computer, and got on with it.

I dug out a spare little monitor from the corner of my office, dusted it off and tried that.  Same problem.  So it’s the cable (or the port on the back of the computer).  Right, next, do I have a spare cable?  I pulled my “I’ll keep these random cables, they might come in useful” box out of the garage and had a dig around.  No, I didn’t have one of those cables, but I did find a different type of monitor cable.  Eventually.

What I didn’t know was whether, A, the monitor, or B, the computer, took that type of monitor cable.  I crossed all my fingers and toes (then uncrossed them again because it’s tricky to walk like that) and headed back to the computer.  I checked the monitor.  Yes!  Not just one of those ports, in fact, but two!  And was there one on the back of the computer?  There was indeed – ah, job’s a good’n, I thought.

So I plugged in the new cable and… nothing.

Honestly, I could have picked the thing up and thrown it through the window.

Instead, I took a deep breath and tried one last thing.  Remember I said there were two of those ports on the monitor?  I unplugged the cable from “HDMI1” and plugged it into “HDMI2” – and, as if by magic, the desktop appeared!  I still don’t know what was wrong with that first port I tried, but I finally had it working.

And do you know what?  It felt great!  I’d actually sorted out the problem rather than just living with it or leaving it for another day.  I was on a roll then – spent the rest of the evening uninstalling old apps and programs, stopping random annoying windows popping up every time I turned the computer on, deleting an old user account that had been confusing things and generally getting it all ship-shape and Bristol fashion.  Cobbler’s children, consider yourselves shod!

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My problem was a frustrating one, I have to admit, but we all have them.  Sometimes your computer, tablet or phone just doesn’t do what it’s supposed to – it does something peculiar, freezes up or starts running really slowly.  Sooner or later, it happens to everyone.  And it gets in the way of being able to do what you want to with your device.

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