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Tech: printer on the fritz

GUEST,leeneia 21 Jul 11 - 06:40 PM
Joe Offer 21 Jul 11 - 06:49 PM
Tootler 21 Jul 11 - 07:11 PM
Bernard 21 Jul 11 - 07:36 PM
Joe Offer 21 Jul 11 - 08:18 PM
GUEST,Jon 21 Jul 11 - 08:40 PM
JohnInKansas 21 Jul 11 - 08:58 PM
JohnInKansas 21 Jul 11 - 09:19 PM
GUEST,leeneia 21 Jul 11 - 11:03 PM
Gurney 22 Jul 11 - 01:21 AM
JohnInKansas 22 Jul 11 - 02:37 AM
Joe Offer 22 Jul 11 - 03:01 AM
JohnInKansas 22 Jul 11 - 05:17 AM
GUEST,Jon 22 Jul 11 - 06:14 AM
GUEST,leeneia 22 Jul 11 - 09:21 AM
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Subject: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 06:40 PM

I'm posting this as a last-ditch request before replacing my HP all-in-one printer. After years of service, it now prints funny. When I print music, for example, it comes out light gray. And strangely, anything centered, such as the title of a piece, is not printed at all!

I replaced the cartridge - twice. I reinstalled the software from HP, and I left it unplugged for 24 hours to let its little brain get a rest.

It is set on normal printing, not draft, so that's not why it's printing light.

Does anybody have any further suggestions before I slit the tape on the box containing the new printer?

It's not the money - it's how to get rid of the old one.

One further question - under Printers on Control Panel there's a "Microsoft XPS Document Writer". I never heard of it, never owned it, have no idea how it got on my computer. Would it help to remove that, or would a large mushroom cloud form in my little office?


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 06:49 PM

Hi, Leeneia -
I think I'd get rid of the old printer, but I share your reluctance to do that. The newer HP printers just aren't as reliable as the old ones were. Most places in the US seem to have places for recycling printers and other electronic equipment - it's Goodwill Industries where we live.

Click here for information about Micrsoft XPS Document Writer. It's a printer-ready format for documents that's similar to PDF, but it never really caught on the way PDF did. You'll find many PDF programs work the same way, having you print to a PDF file. Leaving the XPS driver where it is, is probably harmless. It was probably installed with Word or Office, since it's a standard part of both programs (but now Word and Office also do PDF).

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: Tootler
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 07:11 PM

Time has come to ditch your old printer. Mine did something similar. I changed the cartridge and my computer said the printer had no ink in it so I changed the cartridge again with the same result. New cartridges both times, so I decided it was time to get rid of the old printer.

What Joe says about reliability may well be true, but HP printers are still better than most, IMHO.

I tried a Kodak as a replacement but no luck. My computer runs Ubuntu Linux and no Linux drivers; Kodak don't provide them or the info for others to write them so I took it back to the shop and went back to HP. HP had a link to an external site where I could could download Linux drivers so my printer works fine. I think they support the site, so I am happy to carry on using HP printers as I know they will work.

The ink cartridges I had opened I gave to the Great North (UK) Air Ambulance. they collect old ink cartridges to raise money so I usually give them my old cartridges. I also threw in a box of unused colour cartridges.


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: Bernard
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 07:36 PM

Leenia, you may find that the oddities are not problems with the printer itself, but implementations of Microsoft's .NET framework... do you occasionally get text coming out as gobbledegook, too?

Unfortunately, some printers don't like .NET, but sometimes a firmware update can sort it out.

One thing to try - can you remember when it first started acting up? And do you know how to do a system roll-back? It's possible you only need to take your computer back to when all was well, and avoid installing the offending updates.


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 08:18 PM

Bernard, of course, is right; but sometimes I just give up fighting the battle and buy the new printer. After all, the printer costs about the same as the cartridges that are included.
You can search the Internet for your printer, and you'll find codes that will reset your printer to factory specs, and firmware that will correct many problems. And it could be that last updated driver that you installed. After all, each new cartridge gives you almost a new printer. The paper-handling hardware doesn't renew with a cartridge replacement, but a good cleaning usually fixes paper-handling problems.
But sometimes, I give up. Much of my life seems to be a battle against hardware and software companies. Sometimes I win, and sometimes I give up.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 08:40 PM

Tootler, I've used Epson inkjets and scanners on Linux for years. I think the last scanner was the only one where my (openSuse) distribution didn't have a driver but again, there is an external site for Linux drivers.

I've also found this site quite handy.


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 08:58 PM

You didn't mention a model number, but some printers have print heads that are separate from the ink cartridges. I've had two Canons and three HPs where that was the case. If it's just a matter of print heads that have gone bad, replacing them might solve your problem, and such replacement is an "expected maintenance." Bad print heads would cause the problem you described.

Your operating manual will tell you whether your MP machine has separate heads, if you look for it. If you have the "quick setup" instructions, you should also be able to tell, since installing the heads is a separate step in the first setup.

If it's a fairly cheap printer, it's probably unlikely to have separate heads, but it wouldn't hurt to check. If you don't have separate heads, the print heads are built into each ink cartridge and are replaced every time you put a new cartridge in.

If you don't have the manual or setup card, you should be able to download them easily from the HP web site, although they may be more difficult to find for a very old model. A last resort would be to hit the web "sales department" at HP, where they offer ink and accessories and look for whether they offer to sell you parts for your printer you didn't know it had.

Most MP machines, especially HP's, have a fairly sophisticated internal program. You can usually reset it by turning off the printer, then disconnecting the power cord for several minutes, and then restarting. Some machines may have a "deep reset" process for which you hold down a specific button on the machine while you turn off - but that procedure is almost NEVER mentioned in the User Guides, so you'd have to go to HP Support to find out how to run it. Letting it sit with power disconnected will eventually clear everything, but it may take a rather long time in recent machines since an internal battery may have to run down.

If you've been in the habit of leaving the printer turned on for long periods when it's not in use, it's possible that some ink has congealed in any "feed pipes" the ink flows through if your printer does have separate printheads. When you turn the printer off, the cartridges are retracted to a "parking place" where the "itty bitty holes" are protected from drying out, but as long as the printer is ON they may be just left "hanging in the wind."

This should NEVER be a problem with printers with heads-in-the-ink-cartridges, since there are no ink paths outside the cartridges, but for those with separate heads where this might happen cleaning can be "difficult." A procedure that sometimes works is to run a cleaning cycle to make sure all the lines are filled, then turn off the printer for an hour or so to "park the heads" and let the fresh ink "soak into the old stuff." Turn back on and print a test page, and if necessary repeat the cleaning cycle, power down, let soak. It may take several cycles. (I've had to do this, about 7 cycles spread over two days, ONCE on my HP8500; but it eventually worked perfectly.)

If the problem is caused by Microsoft's updates, there's a fair possibility that HP will have an updated driver that you can download and install for a fairly new printer; but HP changes models frequently and seldom updates any that are "obsolete" (by their standards) so anything out of warranty is unlikely to get an update unless it was an extremely popular model.

If a driver disk came with your printer and no updated driver is available, it might be a good idea to uninstall the printer and then reinstall the driver from the original disk, since file corruption isn't as uncommon as it should be (mostly of the .dll file(s) created the first time a new printer/driver is "discovered" by your computer).

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 09:19 PM

The Microsoft XPS Document Writer comes with Office, and may be included in Vista or later OS installations, or you can download it from Microsoft. It may have been included in a Microsoft update for people who don't have Office.

It's essentially like a "PDF printer." When you print to that "printer" it makes a file with .xps file extension that gets saved to your hard drive. It's intended, like PDF, to provide a file that can "print a look-alike to the original" on any computer that has an "XPS reader." The Reader utilities are (they say) available for all operating systems, just as the PDF reader is.

The XPS format is sort of a Microsoft answer to PDF. Adobe has done a poor job of responding to known vulnerabilities (many of which are holes in the basic specification) with months to make half-assed semi-patches for known and exploited vulnerabilities. If anything, their support for Flash has been worse, although not quite as bad as when Macromedia owned it.

There shouldn't be any harm in removing the "printer" but use of the XPS format in place of PDF seems to be growing. It's possible that websites will begin using the underlying XPS functions and format more, fairly soon; but deleting the printer won't remove the files necessary to support other functions.

I'd suggest just leaving it there, unless it really bothers you. Set a "default printer" tag on the printer you use most, and you'll have little reason to notice it - until you find a use for it (maybe ... someday ...).

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 11:03 PM

YEEEE HAW!

Since the printer wasn't printing anything centered, I had assumed that I had a software problem. But following John's lead, I cleaned the print heads and the print cartridge, and it's printing beautifully!

(It also wasn't printing the name of the composer in the right-hand corner. Go figure.)

Four beautiful duets for flute have now been printed, ready for Sunday. This is most gratifying.

Who knows, maybe after the download from HP, it will start sending faxes again.   
=========
Do y'all remember those print cartridges that I put in and then took out when they didn't solve the problem? The manual says not to leave a cartridge out of the machine for more than 30 minutes. Do you suppose they're toast?

Thanks, all.
==========
I still don't understand about XPS. I'm familiar with PDF, and I grasp that XPS is similar to it. But a printer is an item made of plastic and metal; it makes little noises and consumes paper. I only have one of those in my house.

I'll leave XPS on my list of printers, however.


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: Gurney
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 01:21 AM

Leeneia, if I was you I'd gently stick a piece of tape over where you took some from, on the removed cartridge.
Dried ink in the print-heads sometimes responds to boiling water. -When removed from the printer. (You worked that out yourself, didn't you!)

I'd think that not the advice on leaving the cartridge out is to be sure that the ink didn't dry in the print-heads, rather than the cartridge, but I'm guessing.

Print a few lines every couple of days to keep the ink moving. All inkjets dry up after a while.


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 02:37 AM

I'm guessing that you use ink cartridges that have the print heads built into the cartridge. When the cartridges are filled, the little holes that the ink actually squirts out through don't have any ink in them (for most such cartridges). There may be some older ones that have a protective piece of tape, or a plastic cap, over the print head/squirt holes, but with the newer ones the protective tape that you remove is only to protect the electrical contacts that allow the printer to say when to squirt and how big the drops should be.

Once you've installed them, the system is "primed" by feeding ink right down to where it's ready to come out, so after that the ink can dry in the tiny holes where it's very difficult to clean dried ink out.

Sometimes printers come with a small plastic cap for you to snap on over the print head side of a cartridge that you need to remove for a while. A few new cartridges may come with a cap of the sort on the new cartridge, and you could use one of those to "cap" a cartridge that you need to remove for more than a few moments.

If you don't have a "cap" designed for the cartridge you use, the normal recommendations is that you put the ink cartridge in a small plastic bag (a sandwich bag, perhaps). Squeeze as much air out as you can, and fold the bag over to create a seal. Tape it shut if you feel you need to.

Note that a straight crease running all the way across the bag is a better seal than any method of tying knots in it, twisting it, or whatever other thing the voices in your head tell you to do.

"ZIP LOCK" bags are about the last thing you should rely on for keeping air out. If that's the only thing available I'd cut the zipper off and make a clean fold, taped down, but zip-loks have to be made of thicker material for attaching the "zipper," so they don't even fold as cleanly as a cheaper bag. The only problem is that it may be extremely difficult to find bags without the #@$!^*@ ZipLok tops on them (becaue consumers really are mostly idiots).

An alternative would be to wrap the whole cartridge fairly snugly with something like a SaranWrap "transparent film food wrap," if you can keep the wrinkles out so that the seal is fairly tight.

A cartridge that's been out "too long" will sometimes clean up with a few repeats of the printers "cleaning cycle," but with the tiny ink amounts in cartridges for most machines, a dozen cycles will empty the ink from the cartridges (or the colors, for multi-color cartridges) that work, without really cleaning the one that doesn't.

For printers that have an "ink saver head parking" function (see blather in previous post), the clean-cycle-to-prime, turn-off-to-park-and-soak cycle may open up a dried out head while there's still some ink left; but it's a fairly low-odds thing to depend on.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 03:01 AM

In many ways, I haven't been happy with HP customer support. They'll bend over backwards to avoid replacing what's broken on your equipment. HOWEVER, they're pretty good a talking you through procedures, like printer resets and getting balky cartridges to work. And they've never charged me for phone support, even when the equipment is out of warranty (after all, a printer cartridge is rarely out of warranty, I suppose).

Their tech support people come from all over the world and can be hard to understand, but they're very methodical and clear in talking you through procedures.

Still, I'm not THAT pleased with HP. I got disgusted with them and sold all my HP stock.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 05:17 AM

One of the biggest annoyances with HP is that all their stuff comes with gobs of "free stuff" with no indication of what it is or what it's for. A lot of it loads automatically when you put the startup disk in, without even giving you a chance to decide whether you want it on your machine or not. Of course you couldn't decide anyway since they don't tell you what it is or why it's there.

Some of the stuff that came with my most recent HP actually is useful, but it took quite a while to figure out which to keep. About 30% was absolutely useless (for me) trashware. A few more things looked good at first, but turned out not to be of much real value.

Although I've never bought an HP computer, I'm told that the junkware is even worse than with their printers. I don't mind getting some "extras," but I want to know what they are before they're loaded onto my computer.

I've gotten helpful assistance from HP support people on a few occasions, but they also have a habit of changing the phone numbers, and hiding the new ones in obscure places on their web sites. (I've had at least one HP Laserjet online at any given time since 1991, and have essentially worn the guts out of two and now on the third, so I've dealt with them qite a bit.)

The first HP LJ lasted about 14 years, the second about 8. The third one says it's only printed about 56,000 pages so it should be good for a few more years, if I can keep it from choking on the cat hair.

I had one rather expensive "Super B inkjet" printer replaced under warranty. The replacement arrived DOA. The replacement for the replacement arrived with two switches broken (crushed?). The replacement for the replacement for the replacement actually worked until a couple of months later when I was forced to a new OS, and HP never produced a driver for my printer that would run with Vista. There's a "substitute" driver that sort of works, but Vista keeps telling me it's the wrong driver and uninstalling it, so I'd have to reinstall about every third or fourth time I decided to use that printer.

My current HP8500 MultiPurpose is an excellent printer but I really bought it for the Automatic Document Feed that's supposed to be able to scan one side, flip it over and scan the other side, and go to the next sheet. It "sort of" worked for a while, but I found that if I tried to use the 2-sided scans it ATE about one out of three pages (depending some on the paper condition in the originals), and in the rare cases when it actually made it through a dozen pages the "scan both sides" mode took four times as long as scanning one side, flipping the stack and scanning the other side, and renumbering the pages to merge them and make a pdf of them. When it jammed, the only way to get the original out was to pluck it out in little bits with a long hemostat, because it locked the paper into the drive rollers and there was NO WAY to release them. It was replaced under warranty with no hassles once, and what's left of the replacement is still in use a year later.

After resigning myself to single-side scanning, after about a month the scanner went dead. I kept it online to use as a printer, since it makes color inkjet prints at lower cost per page than my Laserjet can print B/W. (That's rare, but becoming more common) The Laser is still a little faster, and of course the prints are a little more resistant to environmental effects (inkjet ink runs if it gets even a little damp).

A couple of months later, the HP apparently decided I wasn't going to send it home to mama and the scanner spontaneously started working again, but by then I'd gotten an Epson GT-550 with ADF that scans only one-sided but NEVER TEARS UP AN ORIGINAL, and scans at about 4x the speed of single-sided scans on the HP. In the rare case when it double-feeds and jams, pulling one handle opens the entire feed path so the originals slide out on their own. No Rips, no tears.

The HP scanner can run in flatbed mode, so I use it some to copy odd sized things or stuff with ragged edges to a consistent sheet size that will go through the Epson ADF. (The Epson doesn't have a flat bed.)

Most of my flatbed scans though are done on a Canon MP (MP160) thats about 12 years old that was so cheap they gave it to me for free when I bought "something else" - and I don't even remember what it was that I bought. It happens to have a TWAIN interface/driver that's vastly superior to anything either HP or Epson offers (that I've seen), although an even older Epson flatbed had a very similar TWAIN interface. Amazingly, I got the Canon when I was running Win98, it worked just the same with WinXP, and now is running happily with Vista with NO CHANGE IN DRIVERS.

HP Laser printers have been similarly compatible, with no driver updates required from Win98 through Vista, but I've NEVER seen an HP Inkjet that survived an OS update with full functionality (so far).

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 06:14 AM

The manufacturers drivers disk loads of "junk" programs is not a problem with Linux. That said, finding support for a device is not always possible and we can be missing some "bells and whistles"...

For scanning on Linux, sane is used. There are some front ends but it also has a command line interface.

here is a very simple php script I wrote that makes use of that and the command line "convert" from ImageMagick. It's a web page that scans the (4) slides in the scanner, makes thumbnails, displays the results and as a second step writes the selected images and thumbnails to a database.

OK it might have took me about 20 minutes to do that but I didn't want to be using GUI scanning software and GUI photo editing software for a few hundred slides.


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Subject: RE: Tech: printer on the fritz
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 09:21 AM

Thanks for the tips on saving the cartridges, John.

I have a good way to get air out - stick a drinking straw in a tiny opening, suck the air out, and quick close up the bag.

Given all the problems people have been having with HP, I'm glad I'm able to stick with my old printer, which I know works with my present equipment.

As for the unwanted extra programs, I think that when a person clicks on 'Properties', for a program , that the box should show who wrote this program, what date it came on the computer, and what job it does. (Rotsa ruck, right?)

Thanks again for the good advice, and esp. to John.


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