Dear Epson, I Hate You

I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much about what currently angers me, given that I got the product in question, but I’m still going to complain anyways.

A few years ago, my dad got a couple of printers included with a computer or two that he ordered.  I think it was just as cheap to include the printer as it was to not, so he figured, get the printers.

When the printer I had been using stopped working, he offered up one of the printers that had been sitting around, and I gladly accepted.

It was a nice enough printer with probably a lot more capability than I really need, which could be part of the ‘issue’.  It is designed to be able to print photos.

Which is great, but I pretty much just need it for a regular old printer.

After awhile, the ink started running low, and at my dad’s recommendation, I used a place online that sells compatible ink at a pretty good price.  They actually sell it in a bundle where you get four black cartridges and two each of the color cartridges, with the idea being that you use black ink more than the colored ink.

The first pass went exactly as planned.  I replaced the black cartridge, then a few months later replaced all of the cartridges.

I noticed that the printer was reporting ink levels about halfway on all the color cartridges after just a few weeks (and I don’t do much printing.  At all.) so I switched everything to black and white only.

Yet, strangely the levels went down.

This was right around the time that I read somewhere that many ink cartridges these days are programmed (as they all have microchips) to basically expire, showing low or no ink after a set amount of time, regardless of whether or not there was actual ink inside.

Over time, no color printing took place, but the levels kept going down and down.  How strange.

This was when I first started to smell something really fishy.  After all, how could the levels continue to fall if everything was set to use black ink only?

Well, then it got worse.

I participate in a program where we get to print coupons based on our recycling activities.  There’s a local nursery that we use that participates, and we were all set to go print out a $10 coupon.  When it wouldn’t print at all.

I looked at the top of the printer and it was reporting the ink was out….

In every freaking color cartridge in the machine!

How odd that they ALL went out at once, wouldn’t you say?

The FAQ provides this answer:

A color ink cartridge is expended even though I print in black only. Why does this happen?
To keep the print head clear and ready to print, the printer uses a small amount of ink from all the cartridges whenever it prints. Even if you select Black ink Only, some color ink is still being used.

I think that’s bull.  A small amount is used, but it shouldn’t be enough to deplete a whole cartridge.

But, I wondered, why couldn’t I print black and white when the black cartridge was over half full of ink?

Can the printer still print if an ink cartridge is expended or not installed?
No. The printer will not operate if any cartridge is expended or removed. It’s best to always have extra cartridges on hand.

This is when I about flipped my lid.

This printer renders itself useless and inoperable when there is a workaround available?

What a waste.

Maybe I shouldn’t be upset since it was a free printer and it has lasted me a few years, but you know what, I am upset.

It does annoy me that they design this in such a way that you are forced to buy a whole slew of cartridges (which I still don’t believe are truly expended) even if you never plan on using 83% of them.

I’ve read that there is a hack that will allow you to send a command to the printer that will, in essence, reset the cartridge, then making it believe that it is new.  Still, I have a light version of the driver which won’t work, so in order to try that I have to re-install the entire driver set (which forces you to install a very intrusive monitor).  And there’s no guarantee it will work.

The folks at Epson probably wouldn’t care since this was basically a ‘freebie’, but it will still make me better to say that I will never buy nor will I recommend an Epson printer (or any other Epson device) ever in my entire life.

Have you ever gotten frustrated by the ink jet printer racket?  Any brands you won’t use?

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The Old Desktop Lives!

Last week I wrote about how the old desktop computer I’ve had for roughly eight years looked like it might be done.

Turns out, she’s got a little big of life left in her.

Thanks to my dad (thanks, dad!), who has a nice stash of computer equipment, I was able to get it up and running by replacing the video card.

There was a series of lights on the back of the computer that I had neglected to see, but as it turns out, actually gives you the code of the likely problem in the event of a system problem.  The light code pointed right to the video card.

The new card was a cinch to install and after downloading new drivers, I was back in business.

I think the computer is still on its way out, though.  The fan keeps getting noisier and noisier.  And after all this, one of my USB drives seemed to be conflicting with my wireless keyboard / mouse set, allowing only one or the other to work at a time.  Maybe I just need to play with the configuration of the cables. In any case, that’s not so much a big deal, and I can always move my backup procedures to another working computer.

Still, it’s nice to be able to extend the life just a little bit longer.  Knock on wood, but I’ve always had pretty good luck with electronic items around the house, with a TV running for fifteen years and counting, the aforementioned desktop on eight years, and a couple of laptops probably six and four years old that are holding up reasonably well.

What are your predictions on how much longer the old desktop has in it?  Any guesses?

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The Old Desktop Computer May Have Bit The Dust

I’ve always been a pretty savvy tech guy.  My career has been IT.  One thing I learned, though, is that no technology, especially in the PC world, ever stays current.  Thus, I pretty much have gotten in the pattern of keeping computers until they die or are basically unusable.

Around 2004 was the last time I purchased a desktop computer.  At the time, it was a pretty state of the art machine.  It was a Dell Precision 370 workstation,  and it had a really cool graphics card, additional memory, and SATA hard drives, which were pretty fast back then.

It was a great computer and very fast, but as computers do, it started to slow down over time.  I think that happens because the computer does actually slow down as you use it and install more stuff on it, as well as appearing slower simply because the new computers coming out are faster.

I re-installed everything once a few years later, and a couple of years later I added more memory, an upgraded hard drive, and a few other improvements to basically max it out.

We have since inherited a couple of laptops from my parents, the latest of which we use as our primary computer.  Still, the desktop computer was one I used for browsing, random game playing, and as a hookup to all of our external hard drives where we keep multiple copies of any picture, music, document, spreadsheet or other files, and it also acted as a central print server so we could print from other computers we had.

Recently, I was using it and suddenly it freaked out.  The video got crazy.  That’s the only word I can use to describe it.  It got into a weird test pattern.  Powering down and back up got it into a state where it would start up but not really boot up.  It actually did boot up one time and I used it for a couple of hours, but since then, it hasn’t booted up once.  I’ve reseated all the power connections, memory modules, and external cards, but so far that hasn’t worked.  One time it did boot up and the fan started running so fast I thought it was going to blow a hole in the wall behind the computer.

The diagnostic lights on the back of the computer aren’t giving me any really good information.  I may try another video card but I’m not too hopeful.

I think it may be lost.  But eight years for a computer has to be like 120 years old, right?  If it is gone, it definitely had a good life.

It really wouldn’t change anything if we lost it.  I’m pretty sure the hard drives are fine, and I don’t think that we have anything on them anyways of importance.

I guess time will tell what we do.  Right now, we’ll do nothing, but down the line do I:

  • Get another desktop computer, which could probably be had for a couple hundred bucks?
  • Get a laptop computer?  We already have two of those plus I can use the one from work for stuff as well
  • Get one of the latest trends in technology, a tablet device
  • Just scrap it and do nothing.

I guess time will tell if we actually miss the computer in any way that would warrant us having a new one.  For now, we have an older laptop that I’ve started using.  If that were to die as well, we would definitely need to do something, but since that was probably from 2005 or 2006, we hopefully have another year or two where we could scrape by with what we have.

What are your computer habits?  Do you get new computers regularly?  Do you use your computers mainly for browsing?

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Go Look It Up In The Encyclopedia

When you were a kid, did you ever ask a question, only to be told, “Go look it up in the encyclopedia?”

Well, moving forward, that will take a whole new meaning.  After 244 years of publishing, the Encyclopedia Britannica will stop producing their volumes in paper edition.  Instead, their wealth of information will be available electronically. I’m guessing this means via website subscription or other digital media.

When I was a kid, I never had a full set of encyclopedias, though I do remember having a sort of encyclopedia-lite set of three volumes, which would provide an overview of most topics.  If I needed the additional detail that the encyclopedia would require, I had to use whatever was available in our school or city library.

Kind of sad, when you think about it.  I’m sure for many, that set of 26 volumes, or however many it actually ended up being, was an institution in their homes.  Kids today will never have that, unless of course, they want to access an old set with potentially outdated information.

As for me, I remember asking a lot of questions about what certain words meant, so what I remember hearing most often was “Go look it up in the dictionary.”

So far as I can tell, Webster is still publishing those in paper form, so as long as that holds, I’ll at least get to pass that one along to my kids!

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