Telling the Telly Who's Boss

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As if to remind us that the medium is the message, the TV decides to break down.

During an ordinary family evening, while the kids are engrossed in their superhero cartoons, horizontal lines begin to flicker on the lower half of the TV screen. It's alright, the kids don't mind. Phineas and Ferb, Batman, Spongebob and all the rest of their favorite superheroes are still there.

Then everything becomes a weird shade of yellow-green. The kids begin to complain, nothing serious, just the constant background noise of children nagging.

Finally the image on the screen begins to freeze and jump. If we don't act fast, the whole thing will go kaput and our kids will officially declare civil war.

Most people would take the TV straight to the repair shop, but in fine techno punk do-it-yourself tradition we decide to try fixing it ourselves. Or at least we try to figure what's actually causing the malfunction because at heart, all techno punks are repressed electricians or mechanics.

So we roll up our sleeves, warm up the elbow grease and begin a series of checks to pinpoint, and then obliterate, the problem.

Diagnostic check

First check: What happens if we bang the top of the TV? Doesn't help. Now we've just made the TV angry.

Second check: Maybe the problem has something to do with the cables connected to the back of the TV? Oh, erm, nope.

Third check: Maybe it connected to the radio waves emitted by our home Wi-Fi network? No, but now we need to reconfigure our Wi-Fi and fix the TV.

After a few more minutes of frustration, it becomes clear that we need to take off the kid gloves and commence with an invasive surgical procedure. Ladies and gentlemen, we're going in.

Paging Dr. Techno Punk to the operating room

There is no electronic or mechanical device in our homes that we won't try to fix when it breaks. The sound system, DVD player, washing machine, even the electric egg beater. We'll try to repair all of them in the ultimate spirit of DIY. Because remember: Anything that has screws can be opened. And if it can be opened, we will try to fix it, even if deep down we know the problem is actually beyond our capabilities. You have to break a few egg beaters to make an omelet.
Of course some techno punks are a bit more gung-ho than others.


The point is to open the dang thing, see how it's built and take a moment to gaze in awe at the wonders of modern electronics, even if we are propelled forward by the illusion that we know what we are doing.

"Here, the TV mainboard is probably a bit loose," we say with the voice of authority. Then we check for the real problem by searching on Google. We quickly discover that the problem is a known symptom that affects LCD screens when the connecting cables weaken over time. On YouTube, there are plenty of video demonstrations showing how to repair your own television in five minutes flat.

It seems pretty simple. Just untwist the 10 screws holding the back of the TV screen. Take off the TV cover, locate the cable connectors and play around with them until you hear a click. Then, put the TV back together and check to see if the horizontal lines on the TV screen have disappeared and the color scheme is back to normal. Easy-peasy.

Treading on sacred ground

Wait a second. We're opening the back end of the TV. When it comes to televisions, opening the back end is no simple task. We don't mean physically opening it, no. That part is easy. First, though, you have to break through the psychological barrier.

Ever since Benjamin Franklin flew his kite into a thunderstorm with a little metallic key attached at the end, techno punks have feared the electrocuting capacity of tiny metal conductors. Say for example, the little metallic parts inside an LCD TV. Even more so, when the techno punk in question is touching the conductor with a metal screwdriver. Sure the TV isn't plugged in (we double-checked before opening it), but that doesn't rule out a stray spark carrying the wrath of Zeus. Remember, you did just slap the TV a moment ago, so it has no incentive to play nice.

It's this fear of being struck by Zeus' wrath that deters us from taking apart televisions we see left on street curbs and keep the more interesting parts in our drawer full of junk. Even though today's LCD televisions are infinitely safer than the boob tubes of yore, we still fear an express one-way ticket to the Holy of Holies.

Just call the repair guy already, before you electrocute me

"Of course, we will still open the TV. We saw how to repair it on YouTube. Would techno punks cower in fear of some idiotic myth and an unreasonable fear of electrocution? Ha! I'm going to open it right now. Hey honey, just help me while I do it because it's a bit heavy and it I wouldn't want a part to fall out. Don't worry; just hold the thing here while I get my screwdriver.

"What do you mean, 'Just call a repair guy?' What a waste of money! I saw how to fix it on YouTube. Don't you remember the time I fixed the washing machine? It worked, didn’t it? Look, I'm unscrewing it already.

"Whoops, the screw is stuck. There must be some way to get it out. Maybe I broke something. You know what, let's call a repair guy. You remember where we put the manufacturer's warranty?"

At this point, we take off the surgeon's gloves and call the store where we bought the damn TV. After explaining the severity of the problem to the customer service rep, we proceed to argue about why it should cost NIS 200 to send a repair guy to the house tomorrow. Why should it cost NIS 200 to send a guy over here, when we can just open the back of the TV and repair by ourselves without taking it to the repair center?

"No, No. I didn't pop open the TV. What do you mean, 'If you opened the TV, the warranty isn't valid?' I said I didn't open it. What do you mean, 'The repair guy will know if you opened it.' How can he tell?

"Anyway, what does it matter? I wouldn't even approach the back of the TV with a 10-foot screwdriver because I'm afraid of being struck by the wrath of Zeus. Yes, that's right, the wrath of Zeus, you knowHello? Hello?

"They must have hung up. Honey, I guess we're going to have to bring the TV to the repair shop by ourselves."

Fear not the wrath of the television gods, oh loyal techno punks.Credit: Courtesy of Panasonic

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