Troubleshooing Canon Pixma700

I recently bought a Canon Pixma MX700 Office All-On-One Inkjet Printer (2186B002). It’s a flatbed scanner, fax and printer combo. I mainly purchased it because it gets pretty good reviews for it’s ability to scan in documents straight to PDF, which is something I desire as I continue to annihilate my hardcopy records. I’m mainly getting rid of documents because I take better care of my digital records. I actually back up my digital records and even better I use them as I can search quickly through them and find what I need.

Now I’m pretty picky about the hardware I buy, so I looked over the reviews for a few weeks. I was quite happy with the price and when it came in I promptly installed the software and hooked it up, but scanning was not working at all for me. I would press the scan button and the Scanner would happily tell me that it was “Processing… Please wait momentarily.” After a minute or so the printer would return to it’s original screen, not giving me an error, but also not performing any scanning. I could tell it wasn’t scanning as the lamp wasn’t moving back and forth. So I tried to make some copies and that didn’t work as well. I began to panic, wondering if this printer would only work on Vista or some other new technology.

I tried Canon’s web page but it wasn’t very helpful and neither were google searches for this problem. Eventually I realized that I had plugged the printer into a USB1.1 interface. I had assumed that since this was not a data intensive device a 1.1 interface would be fine or that the printer would warn me about this. Unfortunately, that’s not true. So I moved the cable to a 2.0 port and now I’m scanning like a champ. If you run into this, I hope this helps.

MVNO News – Embarq Bails and Helio to be dissolved

Well, I read about this a few weeks ago, but didn’t get around to writing about it.  Embarq has given up on the MVNO model for wireless cellular coverage.  Unfortunately Embarq didn’t partner with the right company for MVNO access as the majority of their local landline service was delivered to rural areas.  And Sprint Nextel, the carrier hosting Embarq’s MVNO on the CDMA spectrum, doesn’t have a strategy that lends itself to good coverage in rural areas.

To this folding of another MVNO I have to applaud.  Embarq did very little to actually differentiate themselves in the MVNO marketplace, it was basically just a sales attempt to get people paying for local service to purchase their cellular services through the same company.  But Embarq, like Mobile ESPN, was smart enough to see the problem quickly and leave the market before it became a drag on their finances.  Information obtained from Rad-Info, Inc.

Also of interest is the ongoing talked between SK Telecom, owner of Helio, and Virgin Mobile.  It appears that Virgin Mobile is set to acquire Helio’s customers and then destroy the Helio brand.  I always liked the Helio devices as they were quite cutting edge but there did seem to be some confusion over what it was they were marketing.

At one point they were attempting to sell phones to the Korean American community, which isn’t a bad move as texting is pretty easy to pull off in Hangul and the Korean American community doesn’t seem to shy away from spending on technology.  Although, it’s a limited community to sell to, so I wasn’t surprised when I later saw it being marketed as a high-tech mobile device, and certainly NOT A TELEPHONE!  And they were using really sort of goofy marketing that I think was an attempt to get the young crowd to buy into the brand.

However in the long run, I just never saw any real people actually selling these devices, it seems like they never made it into Brick and Mortar stores.  And I, like most customers, just won’t purchase a device without being able to put my grubby little paws on it.  Info on the merger was taken from The Street.

Meanwhile Virgin Mobile is now offering $80/month unlimited calling.  That’s a great rate, but unfortunately I don’t think that leaves them very much space to make a profit.  However, with the financial problems of the world seeming to continue, perhaps pursuing customers that want service but don’t want another bill every month is a good strategy.  Not to mention, you don’t have to get a credit check in order to start an account with Virgin Mobile.

VoIP Compression may lead to easier eavesdropping

VoIP providers, like Skype and Vonage are considering implementing compression for their networks. That could save them a ton of money on bandwidth and it shouldn’t affect call quality. In essence they will only compress some sounds that actually aren’t filled with a lot of data. It’s a sort of linguistic trick, where short universal consonant counts like the K sound in C or the Tee sound in T don’t have to be sampled as well because we basically all know what a T or K sounds like.

Well that would be great except for the fact that a team from Johns Hopkins has proved that this makes the communications much easier to decode. This basically comes down to a weakness in the actual algorithms that are being used to encrypt this traffic. The problem is that if you want a highly secure algorithm, you need to pad a fair amount of bogus data into the stream to prevent analysis of this type, however that becomes quite expensive as processors have to encrypt and decrypt it, plus you have to pay for more bandwidth to transmit the conversation.

The technology hasn’t been implemented yet, so the Johns Hopkin team is hoping that this will slow down implementation until a better solution can be found.

Link to the story at NewScientistTech, which happens to quote one of my geek heroes, Phil Zimmerman, creator of PGP(Pretty Good Privacy).

Outsourcing NOCs is not a new trend, Telephony Online

Two weeks ago Carol Wilson wrote a story for Telephony Online detailing how Embarq has signed an agreement to rebadge one of their NOCs(Network Operations Center) to Nokia.  When I first read the title I wasn’t surprised in the least as this has been happening for about 4 years now with other telephony companies.  I pretty much just assumed that all companies were doing some forms of this, in fact I know that Hallmark.com was rebadged to IBM a few years back as well.

I suppose I should explain the word re-badged.  Rebadging is when a company gives another company one of it’s divisions and signs an agreement to pay the second company to run the division for them.  As a part of these agreements the parent company usually takes some of their employees and force them to accept jobs at the new company or they will be fired without benefits.  There are some other companies that do this a bit more kindly, but it’s usually as I described above.  Employees call it rebadging because one day they have a Hallmark ID badge and then on the next Monday they’ll have an IBM ID badge.

Frankly, I’ve witnessed several of these re-badging efforts and they have all been disasters.  The only good thing that ever comes of it, is that cowardly managers sometimes manage to get rid of lousy employees by suddenly transferring them to a division that is about to be re-badged.  Now, stockholders are always told that the company will save a ton of money by getting rid of the division, however it never really plays out that way.  You get a sub-par performance by the new division, you terrify the remaining employees in the company, and as soon as the contract comes up for renegotiation the recipient of the division will charge so much that the company is forced to give up on all the savings they were promised.

So, back to the main purpose of this post.  I would have mailed Carol Wilson or commented on the her article if Telephony Online allowed such interaction, but it doesn’t.  So I will instead here mention that re-badging is not a new trend in North America.

You can read the article at Telephony Online and I have to give Kudos to AskCALEA for linking to it.

Cable Companies unsure of who they want to be the next president

It’s a hard decision for the cable companies this year as both of the options, McCain and Obama, are critical of many of their practices. McCain has been outraged about cable channel bundling into packages for over 15 years now. Obama has taken a clear stance that he wants the FCC to impose restrictions that will prevent ISPs from modeling traffic in order to manage their networks. McCain seems to be willing to let the industry sort out itself when it comes to Net Neutrality.

Both of the potential presidents are to regulate content based on indecency, voting in June 2006 to raise the maximum FCC fine from $32,500 to $325,000 per offense. The main differentiation being that Obama has mentioned in many speeches that he finds violent or grotesque imagery to be just as or more offensive than some of the sexual content that is currently lightly regulated.

Things get a little bit fuzzier when it comes to media consolidation. It appears that McCain is okay with where consolidation currently stands, but is not prepared to allow further consolidation. Obama is currently not willing to allow further consolidation and has voiced concern that current news outlets are not fulfilling their obligations to their local markets to produce real and relevant content. It must be noted as well that they are not comparing apples to apples when it comes to media consolidation. McCain defines media more broadly as just about any voice that has influence and the medium is really irrelevant, be it cable, satellite, radio, newspaper, etc. Whereas Obama is more interested in defining media consolidation as being related to the areas of TV and radio ownership.

Multichannel has a much more in-depth article that you can peruse here.

Google sets semantics aside and develops tools to detect violators of Net Neutrality

I’m a huge Net Neutrality advocate for many reasons.  I believe in, and spent time in America’s military, defending everyone’s right to free speech.  For some corporate interests or religious interests to decide that they don’t want me to access something I find interesting is antithetical to everything I was raised to believe in.

There are many who feel the same way and we’ve all been talking online about it from our various perspectives.  In fact I sparred a bit with Richard Bennett in the Future of Music Coalition Blog about it just last month.  And there have been some bills presented in Congress but nothing has really come of the debates or the pending legislation.

Enter the idealism of Larry and Sergey of Google to help move the discussion forward.  Apparently the Googlish Duo have set a team of engineers to work on this problem for two years now and what they’ve decided to do is make it easier for people to see if they’re actually being limited from using their internet access in any way they feel like.  So, in line with that goal, they are developing a suite of applications that will allow individual users to monitor their ISPs.

This is a great ideal, because it takes this nebulous idea of Net Neutrality and puts it into concrete numbers.  My grandfather may not care if he uses his full 6Mbps pipe, but tell him that he can’t actually use it even though he paid for it?  He’ll be madder than a wet hen and he’s got all the time in the world to call up and raise hell.

It would also be wrong of me to not point out the obvious, that Google would actually be a huge winner even if Net Neutrality were not enforced.  These guys are acting against their own interests and leaving open the door for innovative competitors because they think it’s the right thing to do.  Not to mention, when a small startup has a great idea, Google tends to buy them out and them incorporate them, so why would they allow ISPs to destroy their creativity hatchery?

You can read more about it over at the Register.

New Sun SSDs Could Spell The End of Root Disk Mirroring

Solid State Drives are on the way to Sun.  Some of us in mid-range computing have been dying for this development to come to prime time and frankly I’m excited.  Currently, most Solaris servers are using Solaris Disksuite or Veritas in order to mirror the root drive.  This provides the ability for the computer to still boot and return to service, even if one of the hard drives has failed.

But if you had a SSD for a rootdisk, it would consume about 25% of the power that the current drives do.  Also, they’re much faster, cutting boot time in half.  And ultimately the most important feature is that they last 7 times longer between failures.  Statistics were taken from this post.

Also, SSDs tend to not actually actually catastrophically fail instead they begin to throw more and more read errors.  This error rate would be accommodated for by any modern filesystem and would result in a minor slow down and an error being thrown to the kernel.  After enough gradual degradation, I’m sure Sun would agree that the drive is toast and then agree to replace it.

But think about this for a moment, it’s entirely possible that SSDs would become the defacto platinum spark plug for servers.  If a Solid State rootdisk lasts seven times longer than current rootdisks, it’s entirely possible that most Sun servers will meet their End Of Life schedule before the hard drive actually even fails.

I’d love to talk to anyone who’s had some hands on time with some of this hardware.

Netflix Watch Instantly Service Down from 11:07AM to 2:58PM

I just noticed that the Netflix Watch Instantly Service is down. I find users at Ars Technica complaining about it here and also users complaining inside Netflix’s forums here. I suppose this is one potential downside to the ultra-cheap Netflix Streaming Player that only caches 64MB. If Netflix sold a hard drive based player then you could ride through outages like this by watching 10 films or a hundred films that you had already downloaded.

I called and spoke to a customer service rep and was pleased with the experience. It was my second time dealing with Netflix Customer Service and both calls were answered with very little call tree nonsense. I just entered a 6 digit customer number they have assigned to me and I was talking to Neil in about a minute, just like the first time I called for something else. Just as I called, the system came back up, so I asked Neil about it and he said that yes, the server had been down earlier, but that everything should be working good now.

And oh yeah, don’t do what I was doing at one point.  Don’t keep hitting the refresh key, you just refresh the outage web page, which apparently may be accessible even when the service is back up.  Instead click out to the main netflix page and then click Watch Instantly again.

How to Remove Link Scanner from AVG8, anti-virus scanner

Yesterday Lifehacker ran an interesting poll, link here, about the best anti-virus product currently available.  Many of the comments are a bit silly, but it started a conversation between me and Claus Valca that fixed a recent gripe I’ve had with AVG8.

Before I go on, I should probably explain why I don’t use one of the big AV scanners.  I use freeware anti-virus scanners at home because I’m cheap.  I used to load AVG on every computer I owned, but somehow AVG determined that I was using more copies than was legal(you can load a copy on one non-commercial computer) and they popped up a window telling me that I was breaking the law.  Now, it could have just been a scare tactic, but it made me go out and read AVG’s free license options very carefully.  And since there were other freeware options, I just diversified.

I run AVG on my most important system because it is a real-time scanner so it can prevent me from goofing up.  On the rest of the computers I run Clamwin which is nice, but will not prevent me from goofing up.  I am considering trying Avast anti-virus, but that’s for another post.

Now, I recently upgraded to AVG8.  But it has a new feature that isn’t very zippy in it’s performance.  The Link Scanner option really slows down browsing on computers, especially when you execute a google search and you get 10-50 options and the Link Scanner is checking each web page for it’s nastiness level.  Now, you can disable the option, but then you get a red exclamation point in the systray and I don’t like red things in my systray.  Red to me means bad, and I like mostly green things in my systray so that I know the system is healthy.

Claus, remember Claus?  I mentioned him at the beginning of the post, experienced this same problem and blogged about it.  Some nice, anonymous person read about his pain and sent him a command line hack to fix this problem.  It’s so awesome.  Download the binary from AVG via this link.  Save the binary to somewhere, then run it from the commandline with these two flags:

avg_free_stf_*.exe /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSearch

then accept all the default options, accept licenses, etc until you get to the add/remove components, repair, and some third option.  Select the add/remove components and then continue all the way through and whammo, you will have AVG8 sans Link Scanner.  You will probably have to update your virus definitions, but that’s no biggy.

Big Kudos to Claus for so thoroughly reviewing this product and to the anonymous poster who helped relieve this pain!