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    The Best Travel Power Strip (with USB) Today

    The best travel-size surge protector is the ~$16 Accell Home or Away surge protector. Its compact size, outlet placement and powerful, full-sized-tablet-ready built-in USB charger make it the most convenient and well-designed mini surge protector.

    Why a Mini Surge Protector?

    Whether you’re jostling for one of the few available outlets at an airport or in a tiny hotel room, wall sockets are often at a premium when traveling. Having a mini surge protector on you can mean the difference between enjoying fully charged devices or trying to stretch the last 10% of your battery over an hours-long flight.

    What Makes a Good Mini Surge Protector

    Most importantly, a mini surge protector needs to be, well, mini. It should be easy to pack in a small bag or carry-on. Ideally, the plug should retract or fold in when not in use. This not only makes it easier to fit into smaller pockets but also makes the plug less likely to catch on or scratch other items in your bag.

    You should be able to plug in all of your devices without blocking adjoining outlets, regardless of plug shape or size.

    Outlets should be spaced out, not placed right next to each other. You should be able to plug in all of your devices without blocking adjoining outlets, regardless of plug shape or size. High-output (at least 2.1 A) USB ports are essential for charging smartphones and tablets quickly. Exactly how many outlets you need will vary from person to person, but two or three AC outlets and two USB ports should be enough to satisfy the needs of most while keeping the surges to a travel-friendly size.

    Finally, it should provide peace of mind that gadgets plugged into it are adequately protected. A power surge may last less than a second, but that is more than enough time to destroy your devices. The best way to tell how much protection you’re getting from a surge suppressor is to look at the Joules rating.

    “The higher the surge protection rating, the more energy it can absorb, so the better it is,” explained Richard Baguley, who designs tests for us and “Joules is an energy measure, so the number indicates how much energy the device can shunt away from your electrics before it blows, leaving your electrics unprotected.”

    So how many joules do you really need? To some extent, this will depend on how many and what types of devices you are trying to protect. The mini surge protectors we looked at had joules ratings ranging from 612 to 1,050. Full-sized power strip surge protectors, on the other hand, can have joules ratings up to 3,000 or higher. All that said, anything above 600 is enough for most people’s needs. And, considering the surge protectors we tested will have a maximum of five connected devices at once, all of our models offer more than adequate surge protection for the laptops, tablets and handsets most people will use them for.

    Given that we rely on surge suppressors to protect our most valuable devices, a surge protector should guarantee surge protection by offering a warranty covering connected devices should the surge protector fail or malfunction. These warranties vary, but the brands we looked at had warranties covering connected devices ranging from $75,000-$100,000.

    Tested: PlayStation 4 Hard Drive vs. SSD vs. Hybrid Drive

    The PlayStation 4's built-in storage drive is more important than ever, but the 500GB hard drive included with the next-gen console is slow to install and load games. Good thing it's easily replaceable. We test the benefits of replacing it with an SSD and a hybrid drive (SSHD) to see what difference a $100 upgrade can make.

    14 Essential Tweaks to Perform on Your New Nexus 5 Smartphone

    Google has been making iterative improvements to the Nexus flagship phones for five generations now, and the appropriately named Nexus 5 is perhaps the most competitive phone to come out of Mountain View thus far. The Nexus 5 offers us our first look at Android 4.4 KitKat, which is the most significant update to the platform since Ice Cream Sandwich two years ago. This phone debuts unique software and hardware features that you'll want to take full advantage of, and it's a steal at just $349 for the 16GB model.

    This device is a great experience out of the box, but you can always make it better. Here are our14 essential steps to getting your Nexus 5 configured properly and ready for heavy use.

    The Best Cheap In-Ear Headphones are $12

    After sifting through literally hundreds of options, seriously considering nearly 150 models, testing the top 40, and calling in audio experts to blindly evaluate the top 20, we’re pleased to report that if you want to buy an inexpensive pair of in-ears, you should get the Panasonic RP-TCM125 Ergo Fit. They sound good, have a one-button remote and mic, fit well, come in a variety of colors and cost less than $15.

    Who’s This For?

    So you’re at the airport and realize you forgot to stuff your favorite headphones into your carry-on bag. Your kid asks you for a new pair of earbuds because they lost theirs (for the second time this month). Or maybe the Apple EarPods included with your phone got run through the laundry. Whatever the reason this time, we’ve all been there. Sometimes you just want a pair of headphones that cost as little as necessary to get the job done. But here’s the problem: which ones are worth putting in your ears? There are a million models out there, and nobody has really bothered to review them. Until now.

    The Zoidberg Project, Part 2: How To Make a Life Cast

    To make the full-size Zoidberg mask, we need a full-size head to sculpt on. And for that we’re going to use something called a life cast. A life cast is a three dimensional copy of a person’s face of head that I can sculpt the mask or prosthetic on top of, since I can’t expect a model to stay perfectly still for hours on end. Since the makeup has to be fitted for a specific actor’s head shape, the life cast has to be as close of a reproduction of that head as possible. That means putting the actor under molding materials like alginate or silicone to create a 1:1 mold of their head, and then casting it with a material like plaster or gypsum.

    To make our life cast mold for the Zoidberg sculpt, we're going to use Body Double from Smooth-On--a silicone specifically made for lifecasting. There are three kinds of Body Double, each with different work and set times (how long you have to apply it and how long it takes to cure). Standard Set which has an 5 minute work time and 20 minute set time, Fast Set which is 90 seconds work time and 7 min cure time, and a new "Body Double Silk" which has a 6 minute work time and 20 minute cure time. All three types have a durometer of 25a. Durometer (or shore hardness) is the scale that materials are rated on to assess how hard or soft they are. "A" scale is for materials that are flexible, "D" scale is for things that are rigid, and there is a "00" scale for gels. The three scales overlap a bit, as you can see on this chart (PDF).

    The Best Android Smartphone for Your Network (October 2013)

    The android device ecosystem is in the middle of a shakeup. The Nexus 5 is a reality now, and it works on three out of four major US carriers. There are also hot new phones like the Galaxy note 3 and Moto X floating around. What are you supposed to do when it's time for an upgrade? That's what we're here to figure out.


    Because AT&T runs a standard GSM/LTE network you should have no trouble getting the latest and greatest Android device running on Ma Bell. The Nexus 5 is certainly an option, but it is still a few hundred dollars off-contract. For some people, taking a contract is acceptable if it means up-front savings. So maybe the Moto X is a good alternative. These are your options: the latest and greatest of Android, or a finely tuned experience with unique features.

    Let's go over the possibility of buying Google's new Nexus 5 for use on AT&T. The device has killer hardware with a Snapdragon 800 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and a 5-inch 1080p screen. Around back is an 8MP camera with optical image stabilization. The device itself has a soft-touch back with a landscape Nexus logo much like the new Nexus 7.

    Tabletop Tutor: Little Games, Big Experiences

    Board games take up space. They take up a lot of space. The hundred or so games in my collection take over three eight-foot bookcases, and I’m always looking for more room. Taking board games to local gaming cons or meetup groups means I have to choose three or four, because lugging them around takes substantial effort. Unpacking and setting up some games can take a good half-hour. Play time can take an hour or three.

    Not all games are like that. Some take up very little space, can easily be thrown into a backpack or handbag. They can be pulled out at a moment’s notice, set up in a few minutes and give you a substantial tabletop gaming experience before your lunch break is over. These little games often cost much less, but don’t let the size and low cost of some of these games fool you. Many are real gaming gems.

    I generally sort these games into a couple of bins in my mind. One bin are small filler games that take only a few minutes to play and can be a precursor to other games. Most people think of these filler games when they think of small games, but not all little games are filler. The other bin are more substantial games which happen to be physically small and easily transportable, but give you a more robust gaming experience. Let's go over some of my favorite small games that offer big experiences.

    The Best PC Gaming Mouse Today

    After more than 30 hours of research followed by 100+ hours of testing ten gaming mice, there's no question about the one I'd buy: the $60 Razer DeathAdder 2013. It's affordable for a gaming mouse, comes with Razer's straightforward and customizable drivers, and has quite possibly the best body design and buttons of any gaming mouse I've used.

    That’s saying a lot. Even before doing this guide, I’ve used a lot of mice, ranging from popular brands like Logitech, SteelSeries and Roccat to the lesser-known Ozone and CM Storm. Furthermore, I didn’t decide on the DeathAdder by myself: I tested ten mice (on top of a few I already owned) alongside professional Battlefield 3 player Charlie Goldberg, who plays under the handle LevelCap, and we both agreed that the DeathAdder is the best gaming mouse we’ve ever used.

    (Charlie is quoted under his handle LevelCap throughout this article, and he also wrote up his own impressions on all of the mice we tested.)

    Now, a big part of choosing the mouse that’s right for you is finding one that comfortably fits your hand size and grip style. With that in mind, we’ve picked out three other mice from our carefully chosen testing pool that don’t quite match the DeathAdder, but are still great. Comfort matters, and personal opinion is always an important part of picking out the right mouse. But even more important is knowing what to look for in a gaming mouse to inform that opinion—button placement, click distance, weight, material grip and sweat resistance, driver software options and the mouse sensor itself. Switching to a new mouse can take some adjusting, but it can also pay off with better control and reaction time.

    First we’re going to tell you what all that stuff means and why you should care about it. Then we’ll tell you why the DeathAdder and a rare few other mice get it right where so many other mice get it wrong.

    Who Should Get This?

    If you play PC games, especially first-person shooters, you should buy the DeathAdder. This is a great choice for just about anyone looking to upgrade to a new mouse, and it’s a pretty affordable buy at $60. (Amazon often sells it even cheaper.) The mouse’s CPI is customizable up to 6,400, which is so high that you’ll barely be able to follow the cursor as it flits across the screen. Even if you really love your current mouse, read up on why we recommend the DeathAdder. It’s possible that the DeathAdder (or a mouse with a similar grip, which we’ll explain in detail) could actually make you better at games than you are now.

    Left-handed? Me too, although I’ve always used a mouse with my right hand. If you’re a left-handed mouser, though, Razer has you covered with a left-hand edition. Unfortunately, the left-hand model hasn’t been updated for 2013; the older DeathAdder has a great mouse sensor but inferior glossy plastic sides. We think mousing lefties will be better off choosing our favorite ambidextrous mouse, the Mionix Avior 8200, which we talk more about below.

    If you’re a PC gamer but spend all your time playing MMOs, the DeathAdder may not be the mouse for you. It has only two customizable buttons on the left-hand side of the mouse, which may not be enough for players who like to bind multiple commands to their mouse. However, after talking to pro gamers who play shooters (Battlefield 3, Counter-Strike) and real-time strategy games (Starcraft), not one recommended a mouse with tons of buttons. In fact, they unanimously preferred simple, lightweight mice, saying more buttons tend to get in the way of a comfortable and highly-controlled grip.

    Worse, too many buttons can cause you to even press buttons accidentally. “I can’t imagine any pro gamers would get a mouse for macro functions,” said Derek, one of the pro gamers I talked to. “Most of the time they stack them all right where your thumb goes on the mouse, like the [Razer] Naga and Logitech MMO mouse. I can’t control those mice for shit even with the same DPI/resolution. It feels off because I’m gripping the mouse differently. For an MMO they would be fine though.”

    The Best MultiTool Today

    If someone wanted to buy the single best multitool available today, I would tell them that the Leatherman New Wave is the one to get. It has a versatile mix of tools, great ergonomics and solid construction, and the price tag is fantastic for the amount of functionality you get. It’s just $61 on Amazon today, and ~$51 if you downgrade to the nylon sheath (do it; you won’t miss the leather). You can pay almost twice as much for a multitool, but the extra investment doesn’t buy you a tool that’s much more useful or practical than this one.

    Photo credit: Flickr user zomgitsbrian via Creative Commons

    If you prefer to spend a bit more for smoother action and a nicer finish, we recommend the $93 Swisstool Spirit X.

    There’s definitely some personal preference to consider with these tools. As was revealed by hours of research with experts and interviews with multitool fanatics, it’s important to consider what’s comfortable for you to use. Some people want a smaller tool that’s less bulky in a pants pocket. Others want a big tool that feels heavy and solid to grip. But even taking into account everybody’s differences of opinion, brand loyalties and personal histories with particular tools, the New Wave kept coming up as the answer to what the folks in multitool land call the unanswerable question: what’s the best multitool on the market today?

    The Best $100 In-Ear Headphones Today

    If I had $100 to spend on earbuds, I’d get the Sony XBA-C10IPs, which only cost $50 but beat competition twice as expensive. After researching dozens of headphones, considering 79 and testing the 15 most promising, our expert listening panel liked them the best. The Sonys fit everyone well, sound fantastic, and have both a remote and a mic.

    Why Spend $100 on In-Ear Headphones?

    When looking for in-ears, there are three things you want to take into account.

    First, fit. Are they comfortable in your ear canal? Do they stay put or do they tug when you move? Do they seal off external sound? Do they chafe or irritate your ears? Good in-ear headphones should be light, easy to wear for long periods and fit comfortably once you find the correct tip.

    Second, sound. How well do the in-ears reproduce sounds? Is there one frequency range that is over- or underrepresented? Are they so loud in one frequency range that it makes it uncomfortable to listen to music for very long? Music should sound warm and full and have a sense of space; voices should be clear and crisp.

    Third, build. Headphones in this price range and size are generally used for commuting so it makes sense to look for something sturdy enough to survive the abuses of daily use. Things like a tangle-resistant cord and a well-designed carrying case are also good to look for as well.

    You should also get something with a microphone and remote because having to take your phone out of your pocket/bag to answer a call while on the go (or even while sitting at a desk) can be really annoying.

    Headphones in this price range will have better drivers and sound than models around $30 or less.

    Why spend a little more? Headphones in this price range will have better drivers and sound than models around $30 or less. They’ll also have features like extra tips (to fit your ears properly), cable clips or a carrying case. While they won’t have the detail, sense of space and sonic clarity of $200 models (like our pick in that range, the RBH EP2) they will sound a darn sight better than the pair that you got with your mobile phone or that you snagged from that accessory kiosk at the mall. Not into in-ears? Take a look at our over-ear recommendations in the same price range.

    Living with Photography: Getting a Grip

    It's difficult not to be self-conscious when it comes to DSLR photography. Walking around public spaces carrying a big camera and lens draws more attention than just taking out a smartphone and tapping a touchscreen. It always feels like people walking by can't help but try to see what you're taking a photo of, and maybe what gear you're using. But while I don't mind any attention from passersby when taking photos in public, there's one audience that I do get self-conscious about, and that's other photographers. That's because I do the very same thing when I see photographers in public. Some things just jump out at me: what lens the photographer is using, how they're positioning themselves with the given lighting, and most recently, how they're physically holding their cameras.

    The ergonomics of holding a camera will differ between camera models and what accessories you use, but there is good reason to seriously think about them when you're using a DSLR. DSLRs are not only heavier than point and shoots and compact mirrorless cameras, they're physically larger as well. Good prime and zoom lenses add to that bulk, complicating the overall weight distribution of the camera when hand held. And while the standard DSLR body design is suited for a two-handed grip in the landscape orientation, turning the camera on its side for portrait photography is awkward, to say the least. Do you rotate the body so the shutter is on the top of the camera, or on the bottom? To be honest, I first started getting self-conscious about the way I was holding my camera when one of you guys pointed out that I was holding it "wrong" in the portrait position.

    So I've done a little bit of thinking about how I hold my own cameras, and after reading up on some other photographers' recommendations, have come up with some best practices that I've etched in my brain--another subconscious checklist to run down every time I put a camera up to my eye.

    The first thing I thought about was the goal of good camera gripping ergonomics. What's the point of holding a camera in one way over another? You can choose your camera grip for different priorities: physical comfort, ease of access to settings, finer control over the lens rings. My top priority is reducing camera shake. I wanted to get a grip on my camera that would give me the most stable shot at the slowest shutter speed possible, eliminating as best I could the unavoidable judder effects of pushing down on the shutter button.

    In some ways, that means thinking of your body as a tripod for the camera, which means having a firm and balance stance on the ground. I typically put one foot forward when shooting, planting my feet firmly on the ground and leaning my upper body slightly and slowly forward or back to adjust for minimum focus distance.

    The Best Travel Mug Today

    If you're looking for a new insulated travel mug and want a high-quality replacement, the Zojirushi Stainless Mug has the best balance of heat retention and versatility. It kept coffee at least 10 degrees hotter after 8 hours than the next travel mug down on our list—just enough to make the difference between drinkable and lukewarm. Though it's at the higher end of the price spectrum, its well-designed exterior, one-handed usability and easy-to-use locking mechanism make it well worth it for something you’ll likely use on a regular basis. Plus, it will never, ever spill in your bag.

    The Zojirushi is undoubtedly the best overall travel mug, but it is a bit on the skinny side. If fitting snuggly in your car or bike cup holder is a top priority, get the $20 OXO Good Grips LiquiSeal Travel Mug. It will only keep your drink at an ideal temperature for 1-2 hours, but that’s enough if you plan on just sipping while you commute.

    We also have a bottle brush recommendation for when you need to clean the gunk out from time to time.

    Who’s This For?

    There are literally thousands of bottles, mugs, thermoses, sippy cups and other devices out there meant to transport your hot liquids from one place to another. Most of them fall into one of two camps: products that are meant for you to drink from while commuting, and those that are meant mostly for transportation that you drink or pour from later, at the comfort of your desk. A large majority of the travel bottles/mugs on the market are aimed toward the everyday office commuter, though some are heavier duty and geared toward those who like to camp or hike. We leaned toward the former group because it’s better to have the option to drink on the go than to not have it. That said, we think our choice of the Zojirushi Stainless Mug would also work for campers/hikers due to its exceptional heat retention capabilities.

    The type of person who would buy one of these things is one who likes to make his or her own hot drink at home to take with them throughout the day—perhaps because of stingy office mates, or perhaps because of the horrible quality coffee and tea out in the world. You usually want the coffee to stay hot at least through the duration of your commute, if not for several hours after you arrive at the office. You want the mug to be easy-to-use in the car or at your desk and so leakproof that you could toss it into your bag or briefcase without worrying about ruining your gadgets.

    There’s one kind of person who insulated travel mugs are not for: hardcore coffee snobs.

    The Best Gaming Laptop Today

    If I were to buy a gaming laptop, I'd get the Toshiba Qosmio X75. It's not the prettiest or the most powerful, but it meets all my requirements for a gaming PC, and it's hundreds of dollars less expensive than other laptops with the same specs. It's still not cheap at about $1,700, but I think you'll be happy with it. If you want a laptop with the single most powerful mobile gaming GPU, you'll have to spend more, but I have recommendations for that too. And if you want a smaller, more portable gaming machine, read on.

    Specifically, I’d get the Toshiba Qosmio X75-A7298 with an Intel Core i7-4700MQ quad-core Haswell CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 770M graphics card, 16 GB of RAM, 1 TB hard drive and 250 GB SSD, Windows 8, and a 17.3″ 1080p screen. It’s $1,700 on Amazon as of September 17th, 2013

    What’s Important in a Gaming Laptop

    A good gaming laptop is one that’s powerful enough to play today’s most graphically and computationally intense video games at high settings and resolution at greater than 30 frames per second. Hardware and display quality are more important than portability and battery life, since most gaming laptops are designed to be used as desktop replacements. That’s not to say battery life isn’t important; it’s just not as important as powerful hardware. So here’s what I think makes a good gaming laptop.

    Building and Testing the Unbalanced Gaming PC

    Modern PC games are at an interesting crossroads. Most modern games have access to all the CPU performance they generally need, but rarely have access to all the gaming performance they need. Gamers with fairly old PCs–for example, one based on a quad-core Sandy Bridge CPU or even an older Core 2 Quad–complain to me that games don’t perform well.

    In the old days, I’d suggest they simply build or buy a new system. Now I just tell them to get a new graphics card and SSD.

    So when I set out to build a new gaming PC, I decided to build one that was “unbalanced”–a modest (by today’s standards) CPU with a high-powered graphics card and a capacious and speedy SSD. So bear in mind that this gaming PC is something of an experiment, but I learned some lessons from building it, and are happy to pass them on to you.

    How To Build a PC Optimized for Gaming

    Loyd Case stops by the office once again to build a new gaming PC. This time, the emphasis of his build is purely on gaming, and Loyd has designed the parts selection around two crucial components: the graphics card and storage. Learn how to put a kick-ass rig together and get an update on the current state of PC gaming hardware. Benchmarks and more details here.

    The Best Bike Lock Today

    If I lived anywhere in the U.S. and rode a bike that cost less than about $1,000, I’d pick up the ~$42 Kryptonite Series 2 package, which comes with a u-lock and four-foot-long cable.

    This isn’t an exciting, novel pick for the best u-lock but it is savvy. Experts, users and the bike thieves that we interviewed agree that the Series 2 u-lock is strong enough to foil all foilable thieves. It’s also light and comes with a stable, easy-to-mount carrying bracket that fits on virtually all bikes. Kryptonite’s accompanying “insurance”—costing $20 for three years—is the easiest to purchase, thanks to their rare online form. And it pays OK, too. In the event that some jerk destroys the u-lock and makes off with a bike, then Kryptonite pays the homeowners’ or renter’s insurance deductible or the replacement cost of the bike. The cable is just one more layer of security discouraging opportunists from nabbing a wheel or seat.

    Why You Should (Maybe) Read This

    In researching this guide, I heard surprising insights from bike shop owners, journalists and longtime riders. I also happened to talk to one nameless thief, one penny-ante thief and one power-tool-wielding professional—the man who very likely pinched my $5,000 custom-made road bike two years ago. So if you want to skip down to hear their take, beginning with Thief #1, I’ll understand. Then you can loop back here to what the other experts say.

    It’s Not About The Lock (AKA How to Use a Lock Properly)

    The consensus among those in the know was that a u-lock is best for virtually everyone, offering the highest ratio of security to portability. Unconventional devices like folding locks are intriguing, but so far none offer the security of a good u-lock. Chains sometimes offer a slight bump in security, but they often weigh twice as much and still relent to power tools. Let masochists wear belts of hardened steel; all our experts said a good u-lock is the sensible solution.

    But before we talked specific lock models, they also insisted we slow down. Most people don’t know how to use their locks, they said. Most people buy big, heavy expensive u-locks and then don’t secure their bike’s frame, or don’t lock to an immobile object, or worse. Videos like this and this and this drive the point home.

    Photo credit: Huckleberry Bicycles

    Both the professional and petty thieves we talked to suggested that if a cyclist couldn’t take his bike inside, he should lock his bike in a different spot each day, making it harder to case out. And they encouraged people to ride cheaper bikes. After all, the resale value of a bike—and its expensive components—is what makes the thing worth stealing.

    Locking smart will allow you to stand out from the thief-tempting masses, and thankfully the proper lock method is straightforward.

    How To Tweak Android's Lock Screen and Notifications

    Android affords users a ton of customization options that vary from one device to the next. There are often so many features, that the notion of improving what's already there gets pushed to the side. However, the uniqueness of Android provides some interesting opportunities to make the mobile experience better, and you owe it to yourself to investigate them fully. The notifications and lock screen have gained many new features in the last few updates. The implementation is slightly different on many devices, but there are also ways to retrofit new features onto these components that are almost universal.

    Let's go over how to unlock the power of Android notifications and lock screens.

    The Best Pen You Can Buy Today

    For an affordable pen that writes smoothly; dries quickly and indelibly; won’t bleed, skip or feather; and has the best ink flow of any non-fountain pen; grab yourself the uni-ball Jetstream. Available in a number of sizes and colors, it’s the best affordable pen around for taking notes at school or a meeting.

    The uni-ball Jetstream is universally loved by our four experts (experts with 1,200 pen reviews between them and over 17 years of combined experience testing pens) for its exceptionally smooth writing ability. It dries quickly, which makes it good for left-handers, too, as it won’t smudge under their hands. This is thanks to uni-ball’s special pigment-based ink, which is designed to sink into the paper, which has the added bonus of making it much more difficult to wash away, preventing check fraud.

    Photo credit: Flickr user mr_sir via Creative Commons

    Who Should Buy This

    The vast majority of people don’t particularly care what they write with, but given that the difference between an awesome pen and a mediocre one is just a couple bucks, perhaps they should. A decent pen is something that just about anyone can buy and if you do a lot of handwriting, a marginally better writing experience compounded over hours of scribbling adds up to a significant improvement. And god forbid you end up not liking it, you’re down just a few dollars—it’s not the end of the world.

    Troubleshooting DVI and EDID Issues

    We get emails from people asking what our basic troubleshooting strategy is, whether it's for problems with computers, home theater gear, tablets, phones, or something completely random. I just solved a PC problem that had been plaguing me all week, and figured this is as good an excuse as any to share my basic strategy. Here's what happened:

    We're in the middle of baby-proofing the house, which involved moving my PC components into a smaller, quieter case, and cleaning up the cable snarl under my desk. Unfortunately, while I was monkeying around under my desk, something happened and my monitor stopped resuming from sleep.

    I'm not sure exactly what happened, but somehow the EDID EEPROM got corrupted. The EDID stores the information about the resolutions, refresh rates, and other settings your monitor supports, so it's needed for plug and play monitors to work on Windows (Linux and OSX will work a little differently). My Dell 3008WFP's DVI ports managed to get corrupted, which prevented Windows from waking up the monitor when it powered up. Needless to say, this was bad.

    I managed to fix the EDID on my out of warranty monitor, but the details of the repair process aren't necessarily universal. However, the troubleshooting steps I went through are fairly generic. In the hours of research I've done since the failure, I found a few tools that are incredibly useful, as well as a couple of websites that are handy for understanding what exactly can go wrong with your EDID. The good news is that EDID problems seem to be relatively rare these days, less common with more modern display connectors, like DisplayPort and HDMI, and can be avoided entirely by making sure your monitor and PC are turned off when you connect display cables.