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Lifesaving HP Pro 8500 Printer Advice

Don't make the same mistake that countless others (including myself) have made. If you are wondering why your documents and test pages are printing out smeared or slanted and you have plenty of ink, then there's another culprit at play. You might try running a printer alignment and it will probably fail on you. The problem isn't your ink, it's your 940 printhead units. If you don't take care of your HP 940 printheads, you will have to replace them every two months, otherwise they should last you a long time. You'll want to keep from replacing them, because they are absurdly expensive items. To keep your 940s in good health, every two weeks you must go to:

Setup (the picture of a wrench at the bottom left of the screen) -> 6: Tools -> 2: Clean Printhead

Failure to do this will result in an incredibly costly printer!

Now, if you're 100% sure that your printheads are fine and you'd like to try something else, you might be able to fix them by giving them a manual tune-up. To remove the HP 940 printheads from your printer, open the top half of the printer by pulling the bottom of the input ledge upwards (this is the "chin" containing the power button). You can clearly see a seam running around the printer that is above the card reader - this splits the unit. Next, hold the "OK" button until the printhead carriage moves to the opening on the left of the printer. If the carriage does not move, power down the printer, then turn the printer back on and hold the star key on the keypad. Remove the printhead lock, then, one-by-one, pull the printheads out by gripping the front and rear of each printhead. I don't recommend using the flimsy, plastic handle.

Now that each printhead is removed, take a clean pencil eraser and lightly wipe the gold contacts on the inside of the printer carriage. Then, using a lint-free, slightly damp cloth, wipe away any eraser shavings. Next, use your damp cloth to clean the outside shell of each printhead (this way you won't get ink on your hands while handling it). The printhead has three important components: the ink intake (the two prongs that jut out), electronic contacts (the carriage contacts and ink chip are on the side), and the printing nozzle (the strip on the bottom of the printhead). Clean the electronic contacts using the method mentioned above. Then, using a damp cloth, wipe along the entire orange colored film strip. You will have to wipe multiple times to remove any ink gunk that persists. Make sure that the entire strip is clean and that the ink nozzle doesn't have any color on it. Once everything on the cellophane strip is clean, dry any excess water, then shake the cartridge back and forth for one to two minutes - you should be shaking hard enough to hear the small ball bearings moving inside of the printhead. Finally, using a thick paper towel, apply heavy pressure to the top of the printhead and draw straight lines on the thick paper towel until the lines look straight and the nozzle stops weeping. You should be able to now re-install the cartridges and run a printhead cleaning. I was able to fix a set of "damaged" printheads this way.

Getting the HP TouchPad Folio on the Cheap

All of the lucky individuals that managed to snag one of the $99 HP TouchPads are probably on the prowl for an inexpensive case to throw their WebOS monster into. Unfortunately, there is something that most people don't know about the HP TouchPad. Part of the device's bezel (the area of plastic around the screen) can actually be used for certain swiping commands and gestures. Just about all of the inexpensive cases on the market (iPad cases included) prohibit you from using those features of the HP TouchPad - definitely something you don't want to miss out on.

While the official HP Custom Fit Folio/Stand For HP TouchPad is out of stock on just about every website or, above the retail price of $49.99, there's no need to fret. You can skip the shipping and knock the price of the official, premium case down to $19.99 in a few quick steps. Navigate to this webpage and click "Check local store availability". If your store says "In Stock" you are definitely in luck. If your local store (for your provided zip code) says "Limited Availability", then that usually means that they have one left. Call the number provided and immediately ask if the store has the TouchPad Folio in-stock. Once they confirm this, ask what the price for the Folio is. After hearing the price greater than $19.99, tell the employee that you are confused, because the website says the Folio is available in-store for $19.99. You'll be transferred to a manager, who will then likely check the new HP firesale policy that corporate has handed down, then will, probably reluctantly, agree to match the price to $19.99 if you can purchase it in-store. By store policy, a manager can usually hold a product for five hours for a customer. Tell the manager that you need to run a few errands, but will be able to purchase the Folio, if he can hold it for you. At this point, the manager will definitely agree and you will be able to, at your leisure, pickup this sweet case without paying shipping.

When you get into the store, be sure to go to the customer service desk near the front. And, definitely thank the manager for his help! Don't try to stack one of the 10% coupons on this deal, if you do so, you might get your price-matching denied, because Office Depot technically doesn't even price-match their own website (according to their policy). If I wouldn't have followed these steps, I would have been out of an HP case, because the manager had told me that over six people had come in trying to purchase the case while he was holding it for me - those folks must have been angry!

Potential for Android on the HP TouchPad

After this weekend's past events, HP has finally managed to garner some attention for the fledgling WebOS 3.0 TouchPad tablet (or, more appropriately, the TouchPad slate, not to be confused with their other product, of course). That nearly ~80% price decrease on their 16 GB tablet (fire-sale priced at $99) theoretically puts HP close to Apple in terms of the tablet market share. But, with the discontinuation of the HP-Palm hardware, where does that leave us? This video, showing a verified "accidentally" repackaged Qualcomm Developer version of the HP TouchPad (named the "QuIC Topaz") running the froyo flavor of Android raises numerous questions. But, what else do we have on the HP-Android connection? This HP Photosmart eStation C510 includes an HP branded slate - very interesting. For a company so adamant about their Palm acquisition, why would all of this development exist?

Taking a closer look at the specifications, we see something even more interesting. The processor in the slate is the Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060, the HTC Sensation's processor is the Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260. They both use an Adreno 220 graphics processor for their SoC (system-on-chip) implementation. And, according to this Qualcomm document the two SoC units are exactly the same (excepting the wireless telecom support). The most fundamental, important hardware that determines the low-level architecture and operating system support for the slate is exactly the same as that contained in a native Android smartphone. It almost seems as if HP and Qualcomm had this device in the works before the Palm purchase. This checks out, as this article on the SoC's shipment is dated in June of 2010. Whereas the HP-Palm purchase occurred in July of 2010 per this press release.

The fact of the matter is, whether through a third-party development group, or directly through a dump of the mystery QuIC device. The HP TouchPad shows much promise of living on through the Android operating system. It is truly only a matter of time before all of the evidence provided leads to the development of a working Android HP TouchPad. For cutting edge development news, I recommend reading the XDA forums at this link.

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Update on Shure SE215 Issues

I believe I've found a solution for the cutting out issue occurring with some Shure SE215 units. I often use the earphones at the gym - an environment in which the earphones encounter a lot of perspiration and moisture. After every gym session, I unplug my earphones from my Sansa Clip and I disconnect the cables from the actual drivers. Then, using a cotton cloth, I wipe the three cable ends and the inside of the connector on the drivers themselves. After doing this, I almost always get grey streaks on the cotton cleaning cloth; meaning, the moisture definitely builds up on the connectors. Since I have started doing this, I have had zero issues with my earphones. Hopefully this helps!

Remanufactured Ink Cartridges & You

My HP Officejet Pro 8500 is pretty ridiculous. If I have a full tank of black ink and want to print a document using no color, because my small tank of cyan is empty, HP locks me from printing any kind of document. It's a really poor design that dissuades me from purchasing an HP printer in the future. Fortunately, I found a reliable, trustworthy re-manufactured ink dealer that offers high-capacity cartridges from my HP 8500 at a reasonable price. There are, however, a few caveats to purchasing third-party ink for the HP 8500. My retailer of choice, "", offers a one year guarantee, live-chat support, no tax, and plenty of coupons. They also offer lots of replacement cartridges that contain genuine, working chips. No one has been able to reset an HP 940 chip. This means that you will not have ink levels reported to you and your cartridge will forever be shown as having low capacity. In a way, this is a benefit. You will be able to print until you notice the ink fading - even if your cyan tank has long since been dry. You must be careful, though. If you do not replace your cartridges when they begin fading, you run the risk of damaging your expensive HP printheads - definitely something you do not want to risk. So, I recommend keeping an extra set of ink around.

You can purchase the ultra-high capacity four-pack of 940XL ink cartridges at this link. And you can easily find up-to-date 20%+ coupons for CompAndSave at retailmenot. Using a coupon I was able to purchase the ink for $34.37 with no tax and relatively cheap shipping (they offer lots of "express" options for those that need ink quickly). That definitely beats the MSRP of $136.86. You could purchase roughly four third-party sets for the price of one "genuine" HP set of ink cartridges. The print quality is exactly the same and the page count is roughly 2200 (the same as the official 940XL black cartridge). Just be sure, as previously mentioned, to monitor closely for ink fading. Other than that, set your printing mode to "fast" or "draft" - that may net you nearly 4000 prints! Pretty impressive for an inkjet, eh?

Also, if you want more information, here is my chat log with a support representative:


Daniel R. Levy: Does the re-manufactured "C4906AN, C4907AN, C4908AN, C4909AN" ink cartridge set have a working ink indicator in HP printers? Most of these 940XL replacements do not have reset ink chips, if these do, I will definitely purchase them.
Andrew: Hi Daniel,
Andrew: the ink level may not be showing correctly for these cartridges.
Daniel R. Levy: Oh 
Andrew: There is no remanufactured 940XL in the market can show correct ink level, because nobody can reset the chip of remanufactured 940XL.
Daniel R. Levy: Is there anyway to determine when I should stop using the cartridges? I don't want to risk running the print heads dry and having to pay $60 to replace those.
Andrew: normally, our customers purchase a spare set.  When the printout starts to fade, they will replace the cartridge immediately.
Daniel R. Levy: When the printing starts to fade, doesn't that mean that the HP print heads are running dry, potentially damaging them? Also, does the chip just always report the ink as low (not empty)? If empty, my 8500 seems to lock printing.
Andrew: no, when the printing starts to fade, the print head is not yet dry.  Normally, if you do not use the printer for a long time (around 3-4 weeks), the print head will be dry.  If you keep using the printer regularly, the print head won't get damaged if you replace the cartridge.
Daniel R. Levy: Thanks for the help. How obvious will the fading be? And, will the chip report the ink as always low instead of empty?
Andrew: when you see there is missing color at the printout, you can replace the new cartridge.  Some of our customers also count the page printed.
Andrew: Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Daniel R. Levy: Just wondering whether the printer will show the cartridges as always low or always empty by default. I know it has to be one of the two, but the description doesn't say.
Andrew: the ink level will show low for those remanufactured cartridges.
Andrew: if it shows empty, the printer may not allow the cartridge to print.
Daniel R. Levy: Awesome. So, it will permanently show as low?
Andrew: yes
Daniel R. Levy: Great! Thank you for all of your help.
Andrew: no problem at all
Andrew: Please feel free to contact us if you need any further assistance.
Bukkit / Minecraft Server Fix

If you're running Bukkit, you might be experiencing some annoying issues with the more recent version. Bukkit 1060, the current recommended build, introduces the built in permissions system. Unfortunately, it doesn't introduce the correct defaults. This means that, even if you're the server OP or console, basic commands like /help or /whitelist (add, remove, et cetera) will result in an error message stating "I'm sorry, Dave, but I cannot let you do that". Fortunately, this glitch is fixed in one of the newer, not "recommended", builds. You can download Bukkit 1063 at this link. It should fix all of your problems (it did for my server).

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More Battlefield 2 Tips

Here's a new glitch that I noticed while running Battlefield 2 on Windows 7 x64. When you go to set the in-game Anti-Aliasing option, the BF2 client automatically reverts to "Off" without letting you save your Anti-Aliasing option. To fix this, do the following: navigate to "C:\Users\DLevy\Documents\Battlefield 2\Profiles\0001" -> open "Video.con" in a text editor -> set "VideoSettings.setAntialiasing" from "Off" to "8Samples" (or whatever settings you'd like) -> save. Be sure to not go into your video settings again, or else you will lose this adjustment.

Finally, if you've noticed that BF2 has issues with alt-tabbing, I'm happy to report that EA has an official BF2 alt-tab fix here.

BF2 1.5 Patching Help

If you've just dusted off your discs and have installed Battlefield 2, you may have been presented with the infamous "you already have a newer version installed" error when attempting to patch your version of BF2 from stock to 1.5. You can quickly remedy this by following this sequence: install BF2 -> apply BF2 patch 1.41 -> apply 1.5 -> update Punkbuster (you can get the manual update tool here - be sure to add each game to the list). This should quickly get you up and fragging in no time at all.

Note: if you do not update PunkBuster, you will be automatically disconnected from servers for this error - "This server only allows players with unmodified content to join".

Dry Screen Protector Application Tips

If you're having a tough time applying a screen protector to your mobile phone, I have a few helpful tips that might ease the process for you.

You need to perform the installation in a relatively dust free room. To help settle any dust, I recommend running a warm shower for a few minutes (to save water, you could actually take a shower before you do the installation). Then, while the room is still somewhat moisture filled, quickly bring all of the requisite tools into the bathroom and shut the door. You will need a large microfiber shammy-type cloth, a small, clean fine-thread microfiber cloth, a hairdryer, the phone, and (of course) the screen protector).

When you get into the bathroom, spread out the large microfiber cloth and place your phone and screen protector on it. Remove the stock protector and give the screen of your phone a quick wipe with the smaller microfiber cloth, making sure no dust is stuck to your screen.

Now, take the hairdryer and, on a warm setting, heat up the screen protector itself (not your phone). Do this for about a minute, about two inches away from the protector in a back and forth manner. This will help make the protector more pliable during installation.

Finally, first hovering the protector over your screen to make sure you can properly align it, remove the protector's film and place the protector onto your screen, with the bulk of your pressure during application at the center. Now, to prevent air bubbles, quickly and rapidly start rubbing, with the side of your fingers, from the middle of the applied protector to the outside edges. If you're having a hard time with this step, you might try using a credit card to help smooth out air bubbles.

If it comes out less than perfect, don't fret! Installing a dry (as opposed to "wet") screen protector is usually rather difficult.

Safely Cleaning Your LCD Monitors

The fact of the matter is, using harsh cleaners containing ammonia will cause short term damage via removal of protective layers and blurring. But, it's not just ammonia is detrimental to your monitor. Isopropyl Alcohol, once considered the preferred cleaning agent, can cause long term damage to your protective coating, yellowing of your plastic, and can even damage to your polarizer - definitely things that you don't want to occur. Fortunately, cleaning your monitor properly is an extraordinarily inexpensive and simple proposition.

Firstly, you'll want a nice, thick microfiber shammy (here's a link to my video showing the differences). Secondly, you should purchase distilled water from your local grocery store. If you have a clean spray bottle, you should keep some distilled water inside of it for ease of use. It is important to use distilled water, because it is free of impurities and harsh chemical ions, like Chloride, that can act as abrasive agents, wearing down and scratching your monitor. This is especially important if you live in an area with hard water.

To clean your LCD, fold your microfiber shammy and lightly cover one side with distilled water, leaving the other side dry. You should now, making sure that your monitor is off and unplugged (to prevent damage), apply light pressure in a circular, buffering fashion across your monitor's surface. Keep doing this until you have cleaned the entire monitor; I recommend using a small surface area of the cloth (pushing with two fingers) for cleaning the corners and all of your fingers for the bulk of the area. While the monitor is still slightly damp, quickly switch to the dry side of your microfiber cloth and begin using the same circular motion. If you act quickly enough and vigorously enough, you should be able to prevent any streaking. If you have streaks left after cleaning, use a barely damp cloth to touch up the cleaning job and be sure to quickly dry your target area.

Hopefully this helped people who have been hearing conflicting things regarding safe cleaning practices. It takes more time than using an alcohol based solution to get rid of the streaks, but your monitor will last much longer using this method.

Quick Tips To Reduce Computer Monitor Eye Strain

If you're like me and you spend a lot of time using your computer monitor, you're definitely no stranger to eye strain. Also known as "Computer Vision Syndrome", with symptoms including dry and strained eyes, headaches, and blurred vision. Fortunately, there are a few tips you can follow to keep symptoms down to a minimum.

Make sure, especially with a larger monitor, that you are sitting roughly one arm length away from your computer monitor. Every few seconds, even if it feels awkward, force yourself to blink. When staring at a computer monitor we often forget to blink, which can lead to dry and strained eyes. Never use your computer monitor in the dark. Ensure that you have good ambient lighting and relief lighting to the sides and rear of your computer monitor. To quickly achieve this, I recommend keeping a high-wattage fluorescent lamp off to the side of your computer station - this will help evenly envelope your computer workstation in helpful, calm light. An important, but often neglected tip, is that for every hour you look at an electronic display (or anything fixed and small), you should take a twenty minute break. Use this time to briefly go outside, look out the window, or focus on distant objects in your work area. I take a ten minute break every thirty minutes, it definitely helps keep my eyes comfortable.

If you have any more quick suggestions, be sure to share them!

Update: Another helpful suggestion - make sure that you are getting an adequate amount of B12 in your diet (can mostly be found in meat). I am a vegetarian, so it is hard for me to get enough B12. When I take a B12 supplement, I notice less eyestrain and fatigue. The difference without it is very large (definitely not a placebo).

Zoom 5341 DOCSIS 3.0 Modem $71.99 @ Staples B&M

Until August 13th, you can snag this awesome cable modem for just $71.99 at your local Staples brick and mortar store. If you're curious about what upgrading to a DOCSIS 3.0 modem can do for you, here's a quick example. Before, when I was using my DOCSIS 2.0 modem on Comcast HSI, I received an average result of 18 Mb/s down and 3.5 Mb/s up. After having my modem activated, my average speeds rocketed to 25 Mb/s down and 4 Mb/s up - this is without changing or upgrading my plan. If your area supports DOCSIS 3.0 (you can determine this by seeing if they offer super fast connections like 50 Mb/s down), you can connect to multiple nodes, meaning your connection is more stable and maxes out.

To get this killer deal, write down the phone number of a local store that carries the $79.99 Zoom 5341 (you can find a listing here). Then, print out the coupon on this page. When you get to the Staples location (after confirming they stock the modem), go to the networking section. If you don't see the modem, they usually put it up on the high shelves, so you might need to ask someone to find it for you (they do this to promote the more expensive, same chipset Motorola model). When you get to the register, mention the price at Best Buy, show them the phone number of the local store, and mention how you prefer shopping at Staples. Definitely do not mention the coupon. They'll call a manager and quickly approve the $10 discount (they probably won't call). After the manager leaves, show the coupon to the cashier - they'll navigate through the computer and approve it. This allows you to stack the price match and coupon. Once you get the printer home, you can either wait for the online activation to appear, or call Comcast's support line and hit the pound key until you get to a technician.


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