by Mike Haynes
Technical knowledge has come a long way in a short amount of time. Thirty years ago, lap top computers were new and an exciting part of one of our most technical projects. A large part of the challenge was having electronics working in the Arctic environment.
A huge amount of effort had gone into the project preparations and when at last it was working in the field, the team had established the installation on a rock outcrop high above the surging glacier. The lap top had a state of the art liquid crystal display and during the first hours of operation it seemed not to be able to function in the cold as it had progressively become harder and harder to make out what was being displayed on the screen.
Extremely frustrated at this irritating apparent malfunction, the team returned in an arduous trip from the mountain side back to base camp near sea level, hoping that the warmth of the base tent would allow the screen to recover and be seen.
Gathered around the machine expectantly hoping it would be clear, everyone was disappointed as it appeared not to have improved at all. In this moment in time, a suggestion was made to turn a knurled wheel seen on the computer side and see if it was a contrast control. As the wheel was turned, the image on screen came instantly clearer, relief and frustration in equal measure was expressed by those involved.
Sometimes trying the most obvious solution can lead to success and it can also be very frustrating when you can’t see the obvious.