And I do not see how the use of socket pins protects against external heat sources.
I think the OP meant during soldering.
That confused me for a bit. I thought you had started quoting yourself but then noticed the subtle name difference.
I thought the avatar was - well, somewhat - more obvious!
Has anyone seen this problem before, could it be the MAX7219? Is there a way to test the 7219? or would it just be easier to run to radio shack and pickup another 7219 and see if that solves the problem?