Tag Archives: tech

2 Evils of Inkjet Printing


Printing is one of the untold evils of working with a computer.  Eventually every one is going to print.  For a photographer or a visual artist, printing is an expensive problem especially if you use an inkjet style printer.  Now don’t misunderstand, Inkjet printers have some distinct advantages to a large format or a laser printer.  They are small, inexpensive to buy, and can print fabulous looking photographs and brochures.  I am writing in general terms and am not mentioning specific models of printers because that is for a review page and not a general discussion on the topic.


They are also evil.


Inkjets use ink.  A lot of ink.  The more complex printers by HP, Canon, and Epson all use many kinds of ink to get you the thousands of colors they can reproduce and to dig deeply into your wallet.


I’ve seen printers with multiple black ink cartridges and up to 6 different colors.  Now the evil part, my experience is that each cartridge is really only good for 100-150 prints or even much less depending on what you are printing. Your mileage may vary.  At $12-$18 a cartridge that adds up fast.


You might be able to get away with the inexpensive replacement inks, however I have tried to clean the mess when those re-manufactured ink cartridges fail and explode on the inside of your printer.   250 cotton balls and an entire bottle of isopropyl alcohol later I had a dead printer and a wonderful new alcohol smelling cologne on my hands.


Technology has planned obsolescence.  Inkjet printers  fail. Inside each of those inkjet printer is a small electric pump, tubing, and a nozzle.  The pump is usually not the problem.  The tubing and nozzle can make you want to take a large baseball bat to it. Louisville Sluggers work the best.


The ink you use for inkjets come in a liquid form.  If you print a great deal, or you don’t print regularly, the ink will start to congeal and dry at the nozzle tips and then down into the tubes.  New printers have a nozzle cleaning function built into the software they load on your computer.


However, the solution the manufacturers, at least the big three, have chosen to follow to clear the inkjet nozzle is to run more ink through it.  My last experience with an Epson used almost a full ¼ of the cartridge to do two nozzle cleanings.  To the their credit, Epson does warn you that nozzle cleaning uses up ink.  They just neglect to give you an estimate.  That being said, you can take and have these printers cleaned professionally, but it’s a lot like the light bulb in your microwave oven, it usually is much more convenient and cheaper in the long run to replace the unit.

One quarter of $60 (I’ve rounded it off) of ink with no real printouts makes for a very unhappy person.

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4 Fun Ways to Destroy Your USB Stick Drive Data and Your Sanity.


Do you back up your pictures or design work to a USB flash stick?  These wonderful tools are a great way to get the mobility, the memory, and the convenience you need to store those pictures in case your computer either fails or can’t be with you.  The stick drives are available in sizes up to 256 Gb (Kingston sells for around $420 US) and you can fit it in your pocket. So what could go wrong?  Here are 4 ways to destroy your sanity and your USB flash drive in the process.

  • Let Windows fix your USB. No, I’m not anti-windows.  I once lost a USB to this method.  I first ran into this with Windows Vista and Windows 7 seems to have continued the trend.  If you format the USB stick in a way that Windows doesn’t like, namely anything not formatted by the Windows OS; it asks you if you want Windows to fix it for you.   If you ever use anything other than a Windows-based machine, you may quickly discover that your drive is unusable.
  • Do not put your name on it. – Having worked in many a computer lab and with many USB drives, I can honestly say they all look-alike and the number of these you find stuck in the back of a computer at the end of the day is amazing. Putting your name on your USB makes sense if you are going to a place where you have to use a computer that isn’t yours, or if you want to give your client a copy of your work.  This way you do some branding with your name and you enable the business you left your stick at by accident to get your work back to you.
  • Reformat your USB  – If you know what you are doing on computers this is an ok thing to do.  I can’t really understand why you’d want to, but it is possible.  Otherwise, you might reformat your USB so that only certain operating systems will be able to communicate with it and others won’t by accident. Nothing thrills a customer like putting your USB in their computer to see nothing happen.  A USB flash stick works by using flash (electric) memory not magnetic tapes or disks.  Therefore if you reformat it, the data is gone and even that family member who is the techno geek can’t get it back.
  • Do not transfer your files to another storage solution. – When you lose your main computer system, notice I didn’t say “if”, you want a backup of all your work. USB drives work like all other forms of technology.  They are wonderful; until they fail.  In the paranoid world of the computer systems administrator, you want at least 2 redundant back ups of everything you create on a computer system.  Yep, that’s 3 total copies.  A USB drive is an option, but I would also consider another alternative also.  RAID drives, a second hard drive that backs up everything on to a separate hard drive, is a viable option.  Unfortunately, RAID sometimes becomes expensive and needs some tech know-how to make it work properly.   DVD’s are also good option and all the major operating systems can read them.  But they only hold about 4 gigs of data and in today’s 32+ gig world, do you really want all those disks?  But they do have a shelf life of about 100 years.  Burn’em and forget’em can be your backup motto.

Diligence pays when you understand what USB stick drives are capable of and what they are not.  Don’t put all your data in one basket.  Your sanity will thank you.

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