Category: hardware

Can inkjet printers be hacked?

Ars Technica have an article about something I have long suspected, inkjet printers are filthy, lying thieves!

The article quotes figures from an Epson sponsored study (!) which show that inkjt printers regularly report that they are out of ink when there can be as much as 60% of the ink left in the cartridge.

Not surprisingly Epson printers came out of the study best with figures of 20% of ink remaining when the cartridge reports empty.

The really annoying thing about this is that all the manufacturers are aware of it but they do nothing to fix it. If a cartridge reports as empty, the printer will cease to print, even if there is plenty of ink left.

Does anyone know, is there a way to get around this (apart from buying a laser printer)?

Philips Wireless Headset

Philips sent me a wireless headset to try out during the week.

It is a bluetooth headset with a few funky features:

  • The microphone is about 6mm long (as opposed to the boom mikes on many headsets which come right around to your mouth)
  • It has a separate audio jack/bluetooth dongle so you can plug it into your mp3 player and listen to your tunes wirelessly
  • You can use it with your phone and mp3 player simultaneously!
  • It is rechargeable and comes with a charger

It is also supposed to be able to connect to your computer but I couldn’t verify that – on my Mac, I couldn’t get it to maintain a connection and my Vaio couldn’t see it at all (having said that, that is more likely a Vista problem than a problem with this headset, as the Vaio can’t see any bluetooth device!).

With people concerned about the health and safety issues connected with heavy mobile phone usage – a bluetooth headset seems like an ideal device as it allows you to keep the mobile at a distance from your head.

See more here and here.

Philips tell me it retails for between €90 and €130.

Nokia N70 and E65 cameras compared

I took a couple of close-up photos of my bookcase to compare the quality of the cameras in the Nokia N70 and the Nokia E65

Here is a copy of the photo the N70 took:
Nokia N70 photo of bookcase

and here is the E65’s photo of the same bookcase (in high quality mode):
Nokia E65 photo of bookcase

As you can see from these images, the N70 photo is higher quality! The colours from the N70 are richer and there is a lot of noise in the image from the E65.

The fact that the N70 takes better photos than the E65 is strange given that the N70 was released well over a year ago and the E65 has just come out.

Nokia E65 quick review

My Nokia E65 arrived today and it is even nicer in reality than the site would have you believe!

My first impressions of the phone are very positive although I did get a fright when iSync told me it doesn’t support the E65 – eeek, how am I going to synchronise all my contacts and calendars? Fortunately after a quick search I found that Nokia have a downloadable script which will update iSync to synchronise with the E65.

The handset is beautiful (I went for the Mocca model) and the screen resolution is amazing (240 x 320) in a phone so small (105 x 49 x 15.5 mm).

The desktop and keyboard are extremely well thought out giving quick and easy access to the most frequently used functionality.

The phone is also very responsive. Previous Nokia models would take one or two seconds to open a new blank text. The E65 opens it almost instantly.

Where I am based in Rushbrook, the Vodafone network coverage is poor but the E65 seems to handle the low coverage better than either the N70 or the E61. There is a notable improvement in call quality.

The built-in wifi, one of the main reasons I decided on the E65, has been working exceptionally well. Despite working very closely with Truphone support we were unable to get the E61 to receive incoming calls on my US landline number. However, the E65 hs no trouble getting calls on my US number (so far!).

The only downsides of the phone I have found, so far, are the lack of games on the phone and the poor quality of the camera. But, at least it does have a camera. This was another factor in my deciding to buy this model.

Overall, I’m extremely happy with the phone and would recommend it to anyone.

Microsoft ruins Christmas!

I decided a while back to treat myself to a games console for Christmas and after some discussion, I settled on an Xbox 360. I would have bought a Wii except it doesn’t have a usable optical drive and we don’t have a DVD drive so I wanted the games console to double as a DVD drive.

I bought a Pro Console with wireless controllers to cut down on the cable clutter. I bought Viva Pinata and Pixar’s Cars which I could play with my three year old son Tomás (Cars is one of Tomás’ favourite movies).

He was very excited he was going to play these games as soon as his papa had set up the new Xbox on Christmas day.

Imagine the tears rolling down his disappointed little face when I had to tell him that he couldn’t play with his new games because the Xbox wouldn’t work with our TV (pdf).

I called Microsoft’s Support line and kudos to them for having it manned on Christmas day but the news wasn’t good. The staff there informed me that I needed to purchase a high def adaptor if I wanted my high definition games console to work on my high definition tv. Obviously.

And it is not that they wouldn’t work in high definition only, no they wouldn’t work in high def or regular.

And where could I get one of these? “At your nearest Xbox reseller” – yeah good luck finding one of those open on Christmas day.

This is completely ridiculous – this is a problem created by Microsoft. There is already a standard in place around high definition cabling. It is called HDMI. HD Ready TVs have a HDMI input, by definition. All Microsoft had to do was put a standard HDMI connector on their AV cable and their Xbox would work on every HD Ready TV out of the box.

But no, Microsoft go with their non-standard cable so they can gouge us for another 30 or 40 Euros.

In our house, Microsoft is not the Borg, Microsoft is the Grinch who stole Christmas.

Thanks a million Microsoft. Your cheapness destroyed my son’s Christmas.

Komplett refunds me!

In a previous post about consumer rights, I mentioned how I had asked Komplett for a refund for a faulty drive they had sent me.

Having read on the Consumer Association of Ireland website that I was entitled to a refund, not just the options of repair/replace which were offered on the Komplett website, I emailed Komplett saying I would prefer a refund.

I received an email from Komplett this week informing me that my credit card had just been credited with a full refund!

Excellent, now I can look to getting a different external storage solution. Several people have recommended Seagate so I may give them a look.

Your rights as a consumer

I bought a Western Digital My Book 1tb external hard drive recently from and it was dead on arrival.

I checked the Komplett site and was led to a page with instructions on returns returns instructions

I followed the instructions and received an RMA several days later. I posted back the drive and a week later I received an email saying:

RMA item received, not tested yet.
You will be notified later by e-mail at the next action.

They haven’t even looked at it yet? AAaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

This was on November 30th. I ordered this device on November 2nd. I still don’t have an external storage option over a month later.

Over the weekend I started looking into my rights as a consumer and I noticed on the Consumer’ Association of Ireland website that:

When you buy goods from a retailer, you make a contract with him. He agrees to provide certain goods to you for a certain price. If your purchase turns out to be faulty, the retailer, not the manufacturer, is responsible to you and must sort out your complaint. You are entitled to a refund, a replacement or a repair.

[emphasis added]

A refund? I didn’t see any mention of this anywhere on the Komplett website but according to the Consumer’s Association, I am within my rights to ask for it – excellent!

I have now emailed Komplett asking for a full refund. It will be interesting to see their response (and how long it takes). I’m not holding my breath.

Western Digital My Book Pro Edition II sucks!

I bought a Western Digital My Book Pro Edition II external hard drive recently. This is a 1TB external drive. It wasn’t cheap.

It was delivered last Friday and I went about installing it on Saturday.

It doesn’t work.

The lights come on when it is powered up but it doesn’t appear on the computer’s desktop, nor does it appear in the RAID Manager software which ships with the product (or in my Mac’s Disk Utility program).

It doesn’t seem to matter whether I try to connect using USB or Firewire – I get the same results. Swapping the cables which came with it for USB and Firewire cables which I already own make no difference either. My old La Cie external has no problem showing up.

The support documentation which comes with it doesn’t list any contact details for Ireland and the Support site has no useful info on this drive.

And it is Monday.

Not happy.

Dell's hellish batteries recalled

According to a report in the New York Times today, Dell is recalling over 4 million laptop batteries because of their propensity to catch fire or explode!

Up to now the advice has been if you think your battery might be one of those likely to catch fire, take it out of the laptop and just use the power cord!

If you have a Dell laptop you can check to see if your battery is affected here.

Flash-based laptops coming soon?

I wrote a speculative post last September saying that laptops with flash drives instead of hard disk would ship in 2006.

According to an article in Gearlog, Asus has just started shipping a flash based laptop!

It is still very expensive

The disk alone is being sold at DVnation for a painful $1199, which is half the value of the notebook(ouch)

and only has one 16gb flash disk, but it is the beginning. My first computer had a 40mb hard drive and 1mb of ram – who measures in megabytes these days?

Advances in flash storage are happening fast – expect flash based laptops to be a viable alternative in under five years.