Interesting situation with an HP photosmart printer

I have an HP Photosmart 7760 printer on my desk for the occasional color printout, or the even more occasional photo printout.  Recently, it began printing very slowly.  It was taking 15 minutes or more just to print out a test page.  I spent quite a lot of time trying to troubleshoot this.  I uninstalled and reinstalled the print driver.  I disabled spooling.  I rebooted about 800 times, with various incantations between each reboot.
Eventually, I noticed that the Windows logo that prints on the test page was kind of washed out.  The printer was reporting that the color cartridge was half full, so I started to wonder if the nozzles on the cartridge were clogged or something.
I removed the color cartrige, and the test page printed very quickly, albeit in grey scale.  Aha!  We were getting close!  I put in the photo color cartrige, and the page printed quickly, thus proving that the problem was not in the printer itself, but rather something to do with the cartridge. 
Lacking better tools, I cleaned the head of the cartridge with a paper towel and some water (which is not the correct way to clean it I’m sure!), and while the printout got a bit better, it didn’t speed up to any significant amount.
Finally, I replaced the color cartridge (goodbye $30!), and that fixed the problem.
Total time to repair – 4 hours probably.  I was almost to the point where it would have been cheaper to simply buy a new printer!
Anyway, next time your printing gets wonky, remember that it could be the ink cartridge and not Windows!
Next up, a story on printing problems caused by Windows XP itself…

Halo 2 on the PC to require Vista?!

Oh this is rich.  Bungie (aka Microsoft) has just announced that Halo 2 will require Windows Vista (aka Godot) to run.  While I can imagine that Microsoft wants to help drive sales of Vista, this isn’t going to be the way to do it.  I can just see the discussion at the sales counter when Joe Consumer goes to buy a copy of Halo 2 for the PC…
Clerk: Ah, I see you’ve chosen Halo 2!  Great choice.  Very nice for a three year old game.
Joe: Uhhh…
Clerk: Yeah, it was released on the original Xbox a long time ago, and Microsoft, er, Bungie, just got around to porting it to Windows.
Joe: Um, yeah, but it’s like $50, so it’s awesome, right?
Clerk: You bet!  So I’m guessing you bought a new PC in the last week?
Joe: Um, no, why?
Clerk: Oh, well, you see this requires Windows Vista.
Joe: What’s that?
Clerk: It’s the new version of Windows that just came out.  It requires a PC with 200 terrabytes of memory and 3 jigawatts of processor speed (editors note: this is what Joe Customer will think Clerk said).
Joe: Does that work on my XP machine I bought 3 years ago, and how much is it?
Clerk: It might, but only if you upgrade the video card, and add more memory.  The upgrade will cost either $100, $200 or $800 depending on which one of the seven versions of Vista you want…  Of course, the real thing to do is to buy a new game PC for $2000.
Joe: <putting Halo 2 back on the shelf>Yeah, okay, thanks.  I think I’ll just go buy a Sega Revolution for $200…
I guarantee you that if Bungie was still a standalone company, they wouldn’t be tying it to Vista.  It’s not a good business decision.  Three years after the release of Vista? Sure, when the vast majority of your user base has upgraded, but not in 2006 or 2007.  However if you’re Microsoft, you can try this, and maybe even get away with it. 
I for one won’t bother with Halo 2 for the PC.  Both because of this ludicrous Vista tying, and I don’t need another copy of a game that’s only 1/2 done.

The Ultimate Programmers Keyboard?

Over the years, I’ve come up with a lot of ideas for products, both real world and software.  Some of those would be:
1) Ear muffs with built in headphones
2) Surround sound headphones
3) A keyboard that works well for programmers, including instant macros, a billion shortcuts and more.
#1 was brought out by someone about 6 months after I thought of the idea – this was in the late 80’s or early 90’s.
#2 started appearing a while ago, again about 6 months after I first thought of it.  I guess I need to learn to react quicker to these ideas (that, and build a factory so I have the resources handy when I have an idea)!
Now it looks like #3 has possibly happened, but by accident rather than by design.
Logitech has a product called the G15 Gaming Keyboard.  I believe this may turn out to be a fantastic keyboard for programmers.  You can read their information site for all the relevant details, but consider this – it has a grand total of 54 programmable function keys!  That’s 18 keys, with three "banks" of programming.  Each key can be assigned to launch a program or run a macro.  Macros can be programmed quickly just by pressing the MR (macro record) key and then the "G" key you want the keystrokes to be associated with.  Program launching can be handled by using the configuration program.
The LCD display can display things like current media playing, a date / time / email status panel and system performance (CPU and memory utilization).  It can also be programmed using an included SDK.  In my case I was intending to use it to display certain server status information, but I haven’t gotten around to coding that yet.  However, DevExpress has come out with a plug in for their Refactor! Pro tool that displays the refactors available and various statistics about the code that you’re looking at.  I don’t know that it’s extremely useful, but it is cool.
The key feel is quite good in my opinion, but the keyboard overall is large.  Given everything that’s jammed on it, that isn’t a surprise, but if you have a tiny desk, you might notice the loss of space.  No Miguel, they don’t have a "natural" version.
Oh yeah, it has lighted keys (which can be turned off) to help with those late late late night coding sessions.
Do you code?  Do you think this keyboard might be useful to you?

Another Western Digital drive failure

It seems that hard drive quality has gone downhill significantly.  I just had a 250 meg WD2500 hard drive fail.  The drive wasn’t even used that much. It was used periodically to create Ghost images, and today, when trying to Ghost my workstation, the drive wouldn’t spin up. I remember that I’d had problems with the drive before, but I had assumed that it was Windows XP being stupid.
The drive was manufactured in October of 2004, and the warranty expired in November 2005.
As you can see, many people have been encountering failures with these drives.  When I run to the store later to buy a replacement hard drive, it won’t be a Western Digital!
Western Digital – for when you really don’t care about your data!

Stupid In Line Ads

As many of you have noticed, many web pages have "in line" ads that try to look kind of like links, and are actually advertisements.  Every now and then I notice a particularly stupid in line ad, which I thought was chuckle worthy.  See the attached photo.  I don’t believe it’s actually an eBay ad, but rather an affiliate or something where they get a piece of the action if you go buy a "dialog" through eBay.