Thursday 5 January 2012

Hire A Geek

Like many people I have decided to improve myself this year. I have far fewer years ahead of me than are behind me so I had really pull my thumb out and get my ass in gear. I know you think you aren’t going to make a resolution, but if you are wasting your time reading this then there is definitely room for improvement.

Two weeks ago my daughter and grandkids came upstairs with our old Atari and wanted to hook it up. Great idea, but I have lost a key connection, the one from the game to the TV, and I had to disappoint them. I don’t mind disappointing my daughter, she is used to it by now, but my grandsons haven’t found Poppa to be a let down…yet. Fixing the Atari is the first thing the new and improved Ken decided to do. So, today I went to an electronics store and picked up the modern day substitute. It seems silly that I have put this off for 25 years or so, when the part cost $1.88. Okay, it is/was silly.

While I was in the store I thought that perhaps I could kill two birds with one stone. I asked about a power supply tester which might be able to answer the “Is my computer totally buggered or not” question. The owner kind of looked at me with his odd eyes (one pointed up and away and the other was heavily lidded) and took a deep breath. I thought that he was formulating an answer, but it turns out he is just a heavy breather.  It turns out that he is a shrewd judge of people and he told me that I might find it more of a challenge than it is worth. He told me that I would be wise to just buy a new power supply for about $60 and be done with it. This is something to think about, but what if the problem isn’t the power supply and I waste $60? You can see my dilemma.

I thanked him and wandered about the store for a while. They have such cool stuff! Cool stuff to me are things that look interesting but I have absolutely no idea what they are used for. Well, I guess they have something to do with electronics. I was about to buy my $1.88 item when I saw a build it yourself Christmas tree for only $4.88. You solder diodes and capacitors and resistors and all sorts of electronic doohickeys to a board and when you are finished it lights up like a…well…Christmas tree. I have always wanted to be one of those guys that could build a radio, repair a computer or be able to set the time on the VCR. Right then and there I decided I would learn to be an electronics geek this year.

Well, tonight I went down to the work room and started to assemble my “Christmas Tree”. It was a little daunting in the beginning, but after a false start or two I became a soldering fool. A-1 to A4 use red-blue-grey, C-2 pay attention to the polarity… I was in the groove. Honest to God, everything seemed to be going well. I would solder a wire and clip off the excess, solder another wire and clip off the excess; I was knee deep in excess wires. As I said, everything seemed to be going well, until the last two wires. The plans said to cut them and I did. Too damned short! I tried to put them together, but I knew it was patchwork at best. Oh well, soldering these two power wires is all that is left. Some solder overflowed onto its neighbour and try as I might there was no way to remove it. Everything I did just made it worse, and worse, and worse. Finally I thought I could scrape the solder off with my razor sharp carving knife.

No need to relive that again. Let’s just say that I used some colourful language and made a comment that the “Christmas Tree” had no mother or father. The only good thing that came from tonight is that I didn’t tell Louise about what I was doing so I don’t have to endure her pity and sympathy. I might go and buy another “Christmas Tree” tomorrow, you know get back on the horse; learn from your mistakes, that sort of thing.

I could spend the money on a lotto ticket and if I win I could hire a geek to do the work for me. Yep, that’s what I will do, hire a geek!

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