Saturday, November 21, 2009

Printer fix

Earlier this week Jane's printer stopped printing black even after we changed the cartridge.  We looked and couldn't see any reason why it would not print.  The only two things we could think of was clogged print heads or the printer was broken. I hoped that the problem was a clogged print head as the alternative was to look for a new printer that was fully supported in Linux.  Several years ago she received the Canon IP3000 as a Christmas gift from her father and I don't see it for sale in any store now.  The closest model was the IP4700 which runs about $100 (Canadian).  I did a bit more research and if I wanted to buy a new print head it would run me over $100.  As a new printer was going to cost me the same as fixing the existing printer I figured that trying to do a fix myself would not be extremely expensive.

With nothing to lose I did a Google search for clogged printer IP3000 and found two sites that had step-by-step instructions on how to take apart the head and clean it.  I followed all of the steps and then put the printer back together.  When we did a test I was happily surprised that the printer was still working.  I didn't totally dry out the head assembly and we can see wet spots on the paper when it prints, but, I figure if I print out 10-15 pages of images that it should clear up.  Total time to take apart the printer, clean it and re-assemble was 30-45 minutes.  I would recommend you use disposable plastic gloves as it is a somewhat messy process.

The only thing I could think that caused the print head to clog up was I used a generic black cartridge in the spring.  After this I will be using Canon cartridges only.  Right now I am happy that we didn't have to go out and buy a new printer and my wife thinks I am a genius on cleaning the printer without breaking anything.

Update 2009/11/26:

The printer is working, but, the photo quality is not working properly.  It appears that I didn't completely clean out the alcohol from the portion that prints black.  I don't know if it will ever clean up, but, the black is splotchy and smears when printing.  We don't have a problem if we don't use photo paper.  I will probably keep the printer for normal jobs, but, I will probably have to get my wife a new printer so that she can print off her photos. Lesson here is to completely follow all directions and to thoroughly clean up before putting the parts back together.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Updating my machine

For the last couple of months I have been looking at the various distros that are out there and how they work on my machine here.  The one I really wanted updated was PCLINUXOS so that all of the machines at home run with the same distro.  The 2009.2 version still won't boot on my machine so I had to look elsewhere.  My current distro was Mint 5.

Mandriva just came out with their latest and I downloaded and burned the ISO and gave it a shot.  It looks very nice visually and it detected most of my hardware without a problem.  The only two things were my palm pilot and the TV card which it didn't detect (like every other distro so far).  I then downloaded Mint 7 KDE and gave it a shot.  It was as visually appealing to me as Mandriva and had the same issues with the palm pilot and TV card.  The area it was ahead was that Java was installed automatically (I have to install that on Mandriva) and the ATI card driver was there for me.  I opted to keep with Mint so far and I upgraded to version 7.

One of the bonuses of this is now I have two more CDs that I can then pass out to friends and family when they have more problems with windows. 

It will take a bit of time to get used to KDE 4, but, so far it has not caused me any problems.  Firefox with Java still plays Runescape in HD mode without a problem.  Digikam works fine along with Thunderbird and XSANE.

When I get some time I will try to dig and see if I can get the palm pilot to work.  I thought I saw something about 'VISOR'.  If that doesn't work I really want to get my TV card to work.  I have a lot of home videos I would like to hook up to the input and make into MPG files and have them transferred to DVD for the family.

Update 2009/11/08:

I have moved off of Mint over to Mandriva.  I have been using Mint for a day and I have noticed a few things that make it a bit less usable for me.
  1. Runescape log in flickers wildy and it cannot be stopped unless I take HD mode off.
  2. The shutdown function at times (about 50%) does not work and the system locks.
  3. I cannot access system services to manually define what I want to run.  This is a critical one for me as I want complete control over what is running.  Mandriva allows me to do this.
The first two items may be something that I did when I configured the system, but, so far Mandriva is not doing those things and I will use that for now.

In Mandriva it didn't auto-detect my printer (SAMSUNG ML-2010), but, after going to WWW.SAMSUNG.COM I found the driver, downloaded it and installed.  It wasn't as smooth as Mint, but, it worked and I now have a printer.