Top Ten Blog Posts 2018

Over the last twelve months I have published 19 posts.

The post at number ten was from ten years ago, and contained a (now deleted) YouTube video on the new Skyfire browser for your Windows smartphone or PDA. Skyfire discontinued its Skyfire Web Browser in 2014.

The post at nine was now a rather dated post from ten years ago about how Scrabble’s owners were going to sue Scrabulous.

The eight most popular post was another ten year old post which was about when Apple was offering some free TV shows on iTunes.

The seventh post was from 2012 when my HP Photosmart printer died. My printer is dead! was a sorry tale about how replacing the ink cartridges on the HP B110a resulted it in destroying the print head.

The post at number six was Comic Book Fonts which was about the amazing comic book fonts from Comic Book Fonts.

The post at number five was wondering Where are my Comic Life Styles? I found them.

The fourth most popular post was about the free wifi (or lack of) on my holiday, Haven no wifi.

Polaroid Pogo printer

The post at three was about Dusting off the Pogo my old Polaroid Bluetooth pocket printer. Still going strong.

The second post was about when my iMac Fusion Drive Failed and had to have it replaced.

So the most popular post on the blog was my post about QR codes on chocolate bars, Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling was published in 2015 and was one of many posts I published on the use of QR codes back then.

Cadbury Twirl Bites QR Code

Tech Stuff: Top Ten Blog Posts of 2017

Over the last twelve months I have published 26 posts, many of these were about my return to fibre. So it is nice to see that the tenth most popular post on the blog this year was from nearly a year ago.  We will have fibre in “12 months”!  I said back then that according to BT Openreach we would have fibre within twelve months, I was slightly sceptical, but nine months after publishing that post I did get fibre.

new fibre cabinet 25

The ninth post was about when my iMac Fusion Drive Failed and had to have it replaced.

The post at number eight was another post about my fibre journey, Still checking… was when the cabinet was activated, but alas wasn’t accepting orders.

The seventh post was from 2012 when my HP Photosmart printer died. My printer is dead! was a sorry tale about how replacing the ink cartridges on the HP B110a resulted it in destroying the print head.

The post at six was about  Dusting off the Pogo my old Polaroid Bluetooth pocket printer. Still going strong.

Polaroid Pogo printer

The fifth post was how I don’t like BT FON which was originally published in 2011.

The post at number four was wondering Where are my Comic Life Styles? I found them.

The third most popular post was about the free wifi (or lack of) on my holiday, Haven no wifi

The post at number two was Comic Book Fonts which was about the amazing comic book fonts from Comic Book Fonts.

So the most popular post on the blog was my post about QR codes on chocolate bars,  Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling was published in 2015 and was one of many posts I published on the use of QR codes back then.

Cadbury Twirl Bites QR Code

Time to replace the ink

Back in July I posted about my new(ish) printer, in which I wrote:

…by posting this post I hope to have some kind of record of how long the cartridges last.

Well I now need to replace one of the replacement cartridges.

The first setup cartridge to run out was the double sized black cartridge which is used for black and white output. This lasted from the end of March to the beginning of July, just over three months.

The replacement XL version lasted from July to January and is still going, so lasted over six months.

I have replaced all the cartridges over the last six months and it looks like the XL cartridges are on target to last as long as the XL black cartridge.

Going through the ink…

Though modern printers are cheap as chips, the ink costs are usually astronomical. My new printer is no exception, though one reason I did purchase it was because it had separate ink cartridges rather than the usual one black and one colour that lower end printers have.

The Canon MG7752 printer comes with, what are called, setup cartridges, I have no idea how different these are to the regular ones, but having got the printer at the end of March they started to run out this month, July.

Canon MG7752

As well as regular document printing, it is also used quite a lot to print photographs, the second 6×4 paper tray makes that simple and easy to do from either the Mac or from the iPhone.

The printer has two black cartridges, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and also uses a specialised Grey cartridge too.

The printer can take regular cartridges, which I am assuming contain more ink that the setup ones. There are also XL high yield cartridges which according to the marketing hype deliver twice the pages of a regular cartridge.

The first setup cartridge to run out was the double sized black cartridge which is used for black and white output. This lasted from the end of March to the beginning of July, just over three months. The colours started to run out in the third week of July starting with the Cyan, followed by the Magenta, then the Yellow and then the Grey. The other black cartridge still has ink in.

I bought XL versions of the colour cartridges so it will be interesting to see how long they last. Challenging to measure effectively as the printing usage patterns in the house vary quite some bit. However by posting this post I hope to have some kind of record of how long the cartridges last.

The printer is dead again…

Canon MP600r

After ten years service, my Canon MP600R finally had to be retired after the print head failed. Back in 2012 my HP Photosmart printer failed for a similar reason.

I liked the MP600R for many different reasons, printing photographs, fast printing of documents, printing CDs and DVDs. It was a decent scanner (not the fastest) and I also liked the ability to print direct from the Compact Flash memory cards that I used in my Canon DSLR.

The main symptom of the failure was the main black cartridge would not print. Despite replacing the cartridge, cleaning the print head, both using the printer utility and even following some obscure guidelines from YouTube washing the print head under the tap as a last resort.

I would have been happy to replace the print head, but the cost of a replacement was around £150 and even then I wasn’t sure if it would have fixed the issue.

So in the end decided that the only real option was to replace the printer.

Looking over what printers were available, I started to make a list of features that I wanted and needed when printing. I realised that my printing needs have changed quite a bit since I bought the MP600R.

For example, printing CDs and DVDs which was quite a high priority back then, is still an useful feature, but not as much as a priority now for me.

Whereas AirPrint or the ability to print from iOS devices, which at the time I got the MP600R we didn’t have the iPad or even the iPhone. Today using those devices much more for communication means the ability to print from my phone or iPad is now a key feature I need from my printer.

I certainly wanted wireless printing (and scanning) for other devices too.

Looking over the products available I in the end went with the Canon MG7752 all-in-one Wireless Printer.

Canon MG7752

This had the key features I needed as well as some nice features that I didn’t. It has two paper trays, one for A4 paper and one for 4” x 6” photographic papers. It also had NFC capability, which I believe works great with Android phones, but not with iOS, typical! I also managed to get £30 off too, which was nice. Oh and yes it is that colour too!

The printer was much easier to install and configure than MP600R and I was even able to do that from a mobile device. It was also really nice to be able to install the printer on a range of Mac and Windows devices around the house.

The only issue I did have was that the Canon My Image Garden software wouldn’t work with the default OS X Canon print drivers, even if the printer would print. This means you can’t easily scan or print printable CDs and DVDs. The solution is to install the Canon drivers from the Canon website, once done everything worked as expected.

Print quality was excellent as was speed of printing, so much faster than the MP600R.

Overall the Canon MG7752 is an excellent replacement for the MP600R and I hope it lasts nearly as long as the printer it replaced.

Streaking on the Pogo

Polaroid Pogo printer

A few weeks back I had a problem with my Pogo printer printing while in my bag and the paper getting jammed in the print head (the heating element). I managed to clear the jam and when I did a test print, all seemed fine.

Using the Pogo yesterday the prints were coming out with streaks across the prints.

Pogo print

As you might think my first reaction was that I had a damaged print head. I printed a few prints, all had the streaking issue.

So I did start thinking about replacing it with a newer Pogo model.

Reflecting overnight I realised I might need to clean the print head. I recall reading an issue with dust on the heating element causing streaking. I had left the printer for a few weeks without using it over the Christmas break.

The solution was to clean the print head was to use the blue “cleaning” card that comes with each new pack of paper. Place it at the bottom of the pile of paper and as it passes through the printer apply a little pressure back and forth over the top of the printer where the print head is.

You may need to do this two or more times, depending on how dusty your printer is. I was lucky enough to get away with a single pass through.

I then printed a new picture, the result was a print with no streaks.

Pogo print

Dusting off the Pogo

Polaroid Pogo printer

Many, many years ago I went out, after listening to people on the Twitter, and purchased a Polaroid Pogo printer, well according to the Twitter it was six years ago in 2009.

I bought it for £50, though it soon fell in price to £17…

I did use it for a while, but there were some core reasons why it never really clicked for me, partly the size of the prints, just 2” x 3” which was too small for most things. Couldn’t really see a practical use for such small prints, even if they were stickers. The other main reason was that the quality of the prints was quite poor in comparison to the HP photo printer I had at the time. So like many other devices after the novelty had rubbed off and the curiosity value had waned, it went into the cupboard.

It was recently though that after making notes in a my new work notebook (trying out visual note taking for project planning) that I realised I actually wanted to include a diagram in my notes. I could have attempted to draw the diagram, but I am not that good at drawing clear diagrams. Also in this case I wanted the actual diagram, not a drawn representation of the diagram. I then remembered the Pogo printer and I wondered…

I had to connect it to the power adapter and remember that the easiest way to do this was to send it the image file over Bluetooth. I was actually quite surprised and impressed that it worked.

I then realised how useful it would be for making notes, well supporting handwritten notes. I could use it to print off slides from Powerpoint presentations, diagrams from said presentations, covers of reports (as visual reminders), images as visual cues for notes, cartoon strips (usually xkcd) even photographs of locations where meetings or events were been held.

There are some challenges in using it. It only likes JPGs and only in 4:3. It will print other ratio but expect to get some unexpected cropping. One strange outcome is that square images (like those created in Instagram) come out in portrait mode.

The most consistent way of printing has been sending files from my Mac to the printer via Bluetooth. I have had success in doing this with a Windows 7 laptop, but the experience has been inconsistent and some days it just won’t work! Alas because of the Bluetooth restrictions imposed by Apple, you can’t print to it from an iOS device such as the iPhone or the iPad. Having said that, LG released a ZINK printer that utilises an iOS App to enable you to print using your iPhone. It should be said that the process works fine with an Android phone.

Aa a result if a diagram is in PNG format and not in 4:3 ratio then you need to use an image editing package to ensure it will print correctly. Likewise if you export a wide screen Powerpoint presentation as JPGs, you again need to adjust the size of the image (canvas size) so that it all prints and ensure that the Pogo doesn’t crop the slide image.

The ZINK paper it uses isn’t easily available on the high street, so I just bought some on Amazon, watch though as the prices vary quite a bit, I did manage to find 70 sheets for £8.99 which was reasonable.

So far I have found using the Pogo printer a really useful tool in supporting my note taking and planning. I am not sure I would go out and buy one just for this, I was lucky I had it in the cupboard, but they do go for quite cheap prices on eBay if you are interested.

My printer is dead!

My HP Photosmart had run out of ink, so after spending £20 on new cartridges I was disappointed to find out that adding the new ink cartridges killed my printer. Leaving me with a repair bill which is a lot more than the printer cost to buy!

Last year I bought the HP PhotoSmart B110a in the main so I could print direct from my iPad using AirPrint.

I was impressed with, what was a very cheap printer, both in terms of print quality and scan quality. I particualrly liked how I could scan from my iPad as well as print. My older Canon multifunction required me to install drivers and software, the HP PhotoSmart had an embedded web server in it so all the functionality was available through a browser.

The printer was running out of ink, so I placed an order with Amazon for some new cartridges, cheaper than going to Staples. I did order proper HP cartridges too. Before they arrived I know some members of the family tried to print, but apart from an incomplete print out I wasn’t too worried.

The new cartridges arrived and I went through the process of installing them into the printer, something I had done a few times before.

After installing them I shut the lid and expected to be able to print… but no there was an error message on the screen of the printer.

Ink System Failure
 0xc19a0023
 Please turn printer Off and then On

Well I did that… no change.

I searched the web, and after a little difficulty found this HP page. Went through all the processes with no luck, still getting the error message. The printer hasn’t responded to any of my attempts to fix the problem. The printer is reporting that the printhead is “damaged”. I am not sure how installing new ink cartridges would have caused the printhead to fail…

I actually can’t remember when I bought the printer, didn’t blog about it, like I should have, and as a result I have a feeling that it is out of warranty. The HP site says it is… but that is based on when the retailer bought the printer, not me!

The “solution” appears to be to replace the printhead. Now having done some searching, it will cost about £40 to replace the printhead. My dilemma is that a replacement HP PhotoSmart printer (the 5510) is £70 and I have no guarantee that a replacement printhead will actually be a solution.

I have a horrible feeling that if did spend £40 on the printhead and it didn’t work, I would have wasted a fair bit of cash and would still need to buy a replacement printer!

The scanner part still works so it’s a bit of a quandary on how to move forward. I can still print using my old Canon printer (but not from the iPad), hmmm, not sure what to do.

Printing from Parallels

Now printing documents from Parallels should be a simple affair. The Windows VM should just print and go…

Parallels installs the following printer…

Which then should be delivered to the printer attached to the Mac, which in my case is a Canon MP600r.

The print job does read the Canon print queue… However the Mac decides to HOLD the print job and when you try and RESUME it, I get the following error.

The error says:

pstopdffilter/pstocupsraster failed with err number -31000

Now at this time I have no idea how to resolve this, except to either print direct from the VM to the Canon (as the Canon is wireless and on the network) or to use one of my printer sharing tricks.

Would be nice to know what’s causing the problem though and initial searches through Google don’t seem to resolve it.