Probably not the entry you wanted me to write, but, whatever that entry might be, I probably don't have time to write it. (Or even this, really, but...)
So, the other week, I restarted my computer for some reason, and, when it turned on, found that the display was messed up; it didn't stretch all the way to the right side of the screen, leaving a black bar there, and the bottom of the display extended past the bottom of the screen. Like the software thought my screen had a different aspect ratio than it does.
Restarting the computer didn't help. Going into the "Monitors" settings couldn't fix it; the various resolutions listed simply weren't of the right aspect ratio, and all left the same problem as before. I had downloaded some updates that day and had assumed those caused it; I would have tried uninstalling them, but I couldn't remember what they were. Should I try digging into xorg.conf? Well, I considered it, but ultimately decided screw it, I'll just upgrade the whole damn OS! I was still using Linux Mint 13, after all; they're on 16 now.
And so I downloaded Mint 16, booted up a Live CD (really a USB drive) -- and yes, the problem still occurred when running off the Live CD, which I think maybe I should have noticed as suspicious -- and, hey, it solved the problem! (It also did other neat things like, now I can hibernate my computer again. Not that I really need to; suspend is pretty damn good at saving power.) And so it went.
...until today, when I restarted the computer to find the problem occurring again. What?? What the hell am I supposed to do about that? Uh... restart it and hope it goes away? Hey, it worked!
So offhand it looks like what we have here is in fact an intermittent hardware error, where it misreports the screen resolution to the software. Yikes. It is a bit odd that before, it just happened to go right after I upgraded the OS, but, I dunno, what else can I conclude? Guess I should take it to a repair place maybe? Well, for now I'll just resort to "turn it off and on again" as necessary, and hope it doesn't get stuck in that state again like it did that first time...
In fact, the problem happens really early in the boot process, before the machine even gets to the bootloader! That should have struck me, but...