Monday, June 25, 2012

Scanning problem with new HP Officejet

I was busily scanning with my new HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus, and started to scan a multi-page document, loading it into the automatic document feeder.  It scanned the first two pages, but then the HP Scanning software reported an error:

The operation couldn’t be completed. ( error -9931.)

So that was weird.  Since the first two pages of the five-page document had been scanned successfully, I thought I'd load the last three pages into the document feeder and try again.  One page scanned and was added to the queue, but then I got the same error and the last two pages weren't scanned.

Time for some research on the internet.  I found that indeed I was not the only one experiencing this problem.  And I found a really good posting on the HP Support Forum with some responses by an "HP Expert" that attempts to provide some solutions.  The last post dated February 20, 2012, however, indicated that the solutions proposed did not fix the problem.  (You can see the discussion here:  Scanning with HP OfficeJet Pro 860 Plus on Lion )

Like the person who was experiencing the problem, I too was using the document feeder to do a multi-page document and was using the "Black & White" as opposed to the "Text" mode.

The work-around appears to be to not use the HP scanning software, but rather Apple's Image Capture program.  The person who was experiencing the problem said he was also able to scan from within Apple's Preview program, but I tried it, and I crashed Preview.  Image Capture is the only program that works for me.

Of course, Apple is blaming Hewlett Packard and Hewlett Packard is blaming Apple.  In the meantime, I'll have to live with the work-around of using Image Capture.

September 11, 2012 - Update:

Since posting this blog, both Apple and Hewlett Packard have issued updates that appear to have resolved the issue of not being able to scan multi-page grey-scale documents.  The update from Apple came through in a Software Update.  The update from Hewlett Packard showed up on the printer's interface panel.  The walk-through was very simple to follow.  I have scanned several multi-page documents in grey-scale since, and have not encountered any more problems.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Forced to get a new printer

My Epson printer develops a problem
Ever since 2009 I have had the Epson Workforce 600 at my side. It is a multi-function printer / scanner / copier / fax machine that has provided me with very satisfactory output since I got it.

The other day I was preparing a letter to my sister which included printouts of some photographs. The quality was terrible! There were lighter and darker strips throughout the pictures. I went ahead and sent the letter anyway and then went about diagnosing the problem.

A plugged nozzle
The Epson printer has a "Nozzle Check" where it prints out a pattern of vertical and horizontal lines. If there are gaps in the lines, you know the nozzle is clogged and needs to be cleaned out. So you are next instructed to do a "Head Cleaning". After that, you print out the Nozzle Check patterns again. You are told that you may need to do this several times before you no longer see gaps in the lines. On the internet, I learned that you may need to do this 6 - 10 times. Of course, even if only one of the nozzles is clogged, you can't isolate the one nozzle. All of the nozzles go through the Head Cleaning procedure. The only nozzle that I was having a problem with was the one for the red (magenta) ink.

I ran through the procedure at least six times, with no change in results. So I started doing some more research on the internet to see what else I might be able to do. One thing you learn very quickly is that this procedure uses tons and tons of ink. I was wondering where all this ink was going to. I started getting this picture in my mind of a lake of ink in the bottom of the printer. It turns out there are sponges under the nozzles that are supposed to absorb the ink. So there were suggestions on the internet of trying to soak up some of the excess ink out of the sponges. There were also suggestions of trying to use alcohol or water in the sponges or trying to get some water or alcohol to the nozzle through the cone that pokes up into the ink cartridge. Nothing made any difference.

Finally, I read that all that ink being used to unplug the nozzle can actually plug the nozzle! Furthermore, I learned that if you leave the printer on all the time, the ink is kept fluid. This is so it will flow. But it also means that the ink will clog the nozzle more easily. I left my printer on 24 / 7 for the most part. I didn't know you were supposed to turn it off when not in use to allow the ink to dry up and to prevent the nozzles from getting clogged. I don't remember ever reading this in any of the instructions from Epson.

I give up
After learning all this, I decided I wasn't doing the printer any good by running the Nozzle Check and Head Cleaning over and over. So I finally called Epson. They had me go through the procedure one more time. The end result was, it was a hardware failure, my printer is a year out of warranty, so the only solution is to take it to a repair shop to get the print head replaced or buy a new printer. And with the prices of new printers being what they are, I imagined it would probably be cheaper to just get a new printer.

I was hoping that I would be able to use the Epson for awhile longer since I'm usually printing text on a daily basis, not pictures. But this was not to be.

After printing just one page, the Epson told me I was out of red ink! Furthermore, when the Epson runs out of ink in one of the cartridges, it won't allow you to do any more printing using the remaining cartridges. No. You have to replace the empty cartridge before you can do anything else. It also showed me that it was just about out of black ink as well.

Time for a new printer
Well, I wasn't going to buy more ink for a printer that wasn't working right. So all of a sudden, I didn't have the ability to shop around. I needed a replacement printer immediately. That meant that I had to get whatever was available in the Frederick, Maryland, area where I live. It also meant that I basically needed to go to Best Buy since that is the only store in this area that has a large selection of printers.

Once I got to Best Buy, my decision as to what to get was pretty much made for me. The one thing I really wished the Epson printer had was the ability to place documents larger than letter size on the glass scanning table. If I saw more than one printer with a legal size scanning glass in the local Best Buy, I don't remember what it was. The one I brought home was the Hewlett Packard Officejet Pro 8600 Plus . Besides the legal size scanning area, it has some other nice features including a larger size paper supply tray, duplexing capability, energy saving mode, and best of all, it supports AirPrint, Apple's technology for printing wirelessly from an iDevice.

HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus
Getting the Officejet Pro 8600 Plus up and running was, as they say, a piece of cake. Even setting up the wireless connection was accomplished with ease.

The printer comes with a CD which installs the scanning software and other stuff. Here is where I ran into problems. It installed 6 of the 15 items, and then hung. So I spent the rest of the afternoon with HP Support figuring out how to work my way out of that problem. The bottom line was that they had to provide me updated software which I needed to download to replace the software that came on the CD. I had to completely shut down and reboot my computer before it would install.

I've been very satisfied with the Officejet so far. Of course I had to get used to using the new scanning software. Putting items on the scanning glass took some getting used to because you put your item exactly on the opposite corner from where it was on the Epson. AirPrint worked like a dream. One surprise is that the scanner is not TWAIN compliant! So other applications, like GraphicConverter, that are built to be used with TWAIN compliant scanners, won't work with the Officejet.

Even though the Officejet goes into idle mode when not used for a period of time, I'm still going to turn it off every night. I don't want to clog up a nozzle with ink like I apparently did with the Epson.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

World-Wide Developers Conference

I know I'm late to this party, but I only just watched  the Apple World-Wide Developers Conference keynote address yesterday evening.  I usually don't like watching events like that in real time unless I have to.  I like to pick the time that is convenient for me.  Plus, sometimes you can get the initial reactions from other people and learn whether it is even worth spending the time at all.

Well, I was completely blown away.  It is just unbelievable the technology that Apple is providing to its users, both in hardware and software.  It was like watching a two hour show of magic tricks.

Just one example, and then I'll move on -- the ability to walk into a Starbucks with just your phone, purchase a coffee, show your phone to a scanner to pay for the coffee, and walk out without ever pulling out your wallet or even unlocking your phone.  I really think that Apple's goal in life is to make our lives easier.  They fail in their attempt at times, I know.  But it is a great goal to have.

So, the show was divided into three parts--Mac computers, Mountain Lion, and iOS6.

After talking about their laptops (and ignoring the desktops and towers completely), the "one more thing" was a 15.4" MacBook Pro with a Retina display and without a hard drive.  The display has more pixels than your high-definition television.  In place of a hard drive, it uses SSD storage configurable up to 768GB.  Which means that it is now less than 3/4" thick and weighs 4.46 lbs.  Someday I'll have to learn how the heck they can get the screen to be so thin.

Mountain Lion will be shipping in July for just under $20, and like Lion will only be available through the Mac App Store.  It will have many interface changes to make the computer work more like an iOS device, including improvements to Mail, Safari, Messaging, Notifications, etc.

iOS6 will be available in the fall.  It will include an application called "Passbook" which you will use at Starbucks as I described above, or at the airport with your ticket stored in Passbook, or to get discounts by displaying a store coupon in Passbook to the cashier at the check-out register.   It will also include improvements to Siri and Safari, built-in integration with Facebook and Twitter, and perhaps the most talked-about addition, Maps.  Maps is Apple's move away from Google Maps to create their own, independent map solution, which not only locates you on a map and gives you directions to where you want to go, but will give you a 3-D view of the map in the United States and allow you to "fly" through the scenery.  You may be able to completely ditch your GPS, and just use your iPhone, because it will give you oral turn-by-turn directions as you proceed to your destination.

And this is just the briefest of overviews of what was presented.  The keynote address where you can see what was disclosed at the conference is available by clicking here:  Apple WWDC June 2011 .

I'm excited.  I won't wait too long to get Mountain Lion when it is released.  I'll have to get closer to fall to decide what to do in terms of iOS6.  As far as a new laptop, it may be hard to justify since I don't really "need" a retina display, and I do want at least the 512GB storage.  I'll probably break out my wallet for one of these one day, but probably not this year.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Google Drive Compared to the Competition

Ellis Hamburger, in a story on "The Verge" dated April 24, talks about Google Drive, which was launched that day.  Google Drive provides 5GB of free storage and Google Docs integration.  Users can  upgrade to 25GB of space for $2.49 a month, to 100GB for $4.99 a month, or to 1TB for $49.99 a month, and upgrading to a paid account will expand your Gmail storage to 25GB.  As Hamburger says, "It enters a scene crowded with competitors besides Dropbox that let you sync multiple folders, collaborate with friends, and stream data to your mobile device"

The Hamburger article compares Google Drive with Dropbox, SugarSync, Insync, SkyDrive, Mozy Stash, SpiderOak, AVG LiveKive, Wuala by LaCie, Box, Syncplicity, LogMeIn Cubby, and Apple's iCloud.  All are compared based on the amount of free storage offered, whether there is version tracking, how long or how many versions of a document are saved, whether there is multiple folder syncing, whether you can download your files to a mobile device, whether media streaming is provided, file size limits, and many other criteria.

You can see the entire article here:  Google Drive compared to the competition

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the iPad

James Kendrick has a blog called "Mobile News" on ZDNet.

On April 22, he reviewed a keyboard for the iPad that he called, "the best I’ve tried so far."  It is the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover , which combines the Apple Smart Cover with a full keyboard.  It works with the iPad 2 and the New iPad, but not the first iPad, and costs $99.

You can read his full report here: 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Did John Scully Get a Bad Rap?

John Scully has often been portrayed as the person who almost bankrupted Apple and that if it hadn't been for Steve Jobs coming to the rescue, Apple wouldn't even exist today.

It turns out the facts paint a very different picture.

In this interview with John Scully on the Retro Computing Roundtable, David Greelish finds John Scully blaming himself much more than he should.  Greelish asks people to look at the Apple timeline more closely and to see what all was accomplished with Scully at the helm.

Classic_Computing_Podcasts -_John_Sculley_interview,_Part_1.html

The site also has several links to other stories pertaining to John Sculley which are referenced in the interview and which you can check out for yourself.

Click the "Next" link at the bottom of the page to go to Part 2 of the interview.