Thursday, February 15, 2007

If the TV Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

Lab setup continues, although today I almost took a hammer to it all.

Traditionally, I have used a 19-inch flat panel display to show stimulus materials, such as television programs.

Then someone (I forget who, sorry) told me that my old mentors at Indiana were buying a 32-inch flat panel television to make the experience more realistic. Aha, I thought! What a great idea! As an aside, it also would display a wicked robot.

So I am (by proxy of the state of Texas) now the proud owner of a 37-inch Magnavox.

We don't use the TV as a TV. Instead, we feed it digital video from a Dell computer. In order to have our TV content look real on the big screen, picture quality is a must. So we had to buy an expensive high definition digital video (DMI) splitter and gold plated DVI to HDMI cable.

Add to that the fact that we need the experimenter to have a small monitor show the exact same stimulus that the participants see.

This all might be simple if it were not for plug-and-play. The technology keeps trying to outsmart you.

So I got it all hooked up around noon today, and voila! It worked. I changed one setting on the resolution, and both were DVI beautiful.

There was just one problem. If you turned off the TV, the computer monitor went blank, too. Thanks, plug-and-play. And I didn't exactly want to burn out the TV having it on for no reason while we programmed the experiment, backed up data, etc.

So I shut everything off and plugged the monitor into splitter port "1" and plugged the TV into splitter port "2."

I'll spare you the details, but it took me and the IT guy more than 3 hours to undo that little switch. We had to pull the video card, install a VGA monitor, uninstall all of the drivers associated with the card, reinstall the card, plug a monitor directly into the card, reinstall all of the drivers, and then plug the splitter back into the video card (with the TV in its rightful and proper spot as No. 1).

So now I have to use the fool remote control to change the TV's input settings to keep it from being "on" all of the time.

Everything else, however, is working wonderfully.

And yes, I crossed my fingers as I typed that.

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