|Volume 5 Issue 1||January 2011|
|In This Issue|
|Your inkjet printer's dirty little secret|
|I recommend: Emerson Over-The-Head Bluetooth Headset|
|Your inkjet printer has a secret that you should learn about. Here's my advice on this simple but potentially messy issue.|
|Your inkjet printer's dirty little secret
The problem you can see
If you use an inkjet printer, have you ever seen thin horizontal "white lines" in your printouts? This is caused by some of the printer's "jets" getting clogged, which prevents them from spraying their tiny, precisely-formed drops of ink onto the paper. Your printer may even have produced large white areas, which occurs when most or all of its jets get clogged.
What causes clogs?
There are two main causes of clogged ink jets:
Most inkjet printers have a "cleaning" function you can invoke, either by using the printer software on your computer or by pushing the correct sequence of buttons on the printer's front panel. The cleaning function shoots ink through all of the nozzles in an attempt to moisten and dislodge any clogged ink. Since this doesn't always clear all of the clogs on the first try, you will sometimes have to run the cleaning cycle more than once. Some of the time you may even find that the clogs get worse!
The explanation that you can't see
If you think about the nozzle-cleaning process, you might ask yourself: Where does that waste ink go? Your inkjet printer has a power cord and a parallel or USB data cable, but it doesn't have a waste ink drainpipe, and it doesn't spray that excess ink onto a piece of paper during the cleaning process.
For consumer-level inkjet printers, there seem to be two solutions to this problem:
Some printers try to protect you
In January 2001 I bought a very good inkjet printer, an Epson Stylus Color 860. It still works well today, although in recent years it has developed a minor problem with envelopes. In April 2010 it suddenly stopped printing, and its front panel displayed a pattern (all lights flashing) that was not listed in the user manual. I searched online and eventually found the explanation: My printer's "Protection Counter" had exceeded the recommended level. It turns out that all these years the software inside my printer has kept track of how much waste ink the cleaning function has ever consumed. Like a specialized odometer, this Protection Counter is the printer's way of predicting when its overflow ink pads may be near their capacity. When I learned how complicated it was just to get inside the printer and get access to the pads, I decided it wasn't worth the time and effort. I also found a little program that reset my printer's Protection Counter back to 0, so I can print once again, but I've also put some paper towels under it to catch the inevitable ink spill from the overflow pad.
Older printers may give you an unwelcome surprise
In 2009, a client of mine bought a new computer, which also came with a free printer. Her old Epson Stylus C40UX inkjet printer was still working fine, but since she didn't need two printers she gave the older one to me to find it a good home. I brought it back to my house, but in the course of carrying it to and from my car, I wasn't careful to keep it level at all times. She had been using that printer long before I started working with her in 2005, so it was probably at least 5 years old. As you can imagine, some ink started to drip out from one end of the printer, most likely from the overflow ink pads. It was far too much work to try to open it up and clean the mess, so I brought it to a local electronics recycling place.
Where to go from here
|I recommend: Emerson Over-The-Head Bluetooth Headset
I spend a fair amount of time on the phone. I like using a headset, and over the years I've found good headsets for both landline phones and cell phones. These headsets have all had two things in common:
In 2010 I happened to take another look, and found that over-the-head Bluetooth headsets had become more widely available, and at much more reasonable prices. After reading reviews of various models, one particular comment convinced me to try the Emerson Over-The-Head Bluetooth Headset, model nr. EM-237C. It was from a long-distance trucker who explained that even in his extremely noisy truck, he had to turn that headset's volume down to hear his calls on his cell phone.
More information about this product:
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I love helping people learn how to use their computers better! Like a "computer driving instructor," I work 1-on-1 with small business owners and individuals to help them find a more productive and successful relationship with their computers and other high-tech gadgets.