Sunday, 10 January 2016

How to fix “There is a problem with the printhead” on your HP Officejet 6830

This is how I fixed my HP Officejet 6830 printer after I got the error message, "There is a problem with the printhead". The error code was 0xc19a0003. From the number of problem reports on HP’s support web site, it seems that this is a common fault with this printer.

The problem seems to stem from excessive ink leakage. The bottom of my printer, under where it parks the print head, was saturated with ink; it had obviously been dribbling in - see screen shot below.

If you have the same problem, here is how to fix it:

  1. Open the cover as you would to change ink cartridges.
  2. Disconnect the power.
  3. Remove all the screws of the inner top cover - see screen shot below. You will need either a star screwdriver of the right size, or a flathead screwdriver that exactly fits the screws.
  4. Gently lift off the inner top cover put it out the way; you do not need to disconnect the cables; just place it on the side so that you can access the printer’s internals.
  5. Make a note of the plastic location tape’s orientation as you will need to put this back exactly the way it came. Note which end is left or right, and which side is top or bottom.
  6. Remove the location tape.
  7. Remove the screws from the print head’s base - see second screen shot below.
  8. You will now be able to lift the whole assembly, including the printhead and its bar, up and tilt it upside down; you do not need to disconnect any cables.
  9. Clean the bottom of the printhead with a lint-free wipe of some sort. My printhead had excessive ink.
  10. Put everything back, the reverse of the above instructions.
  11. Plug the power back in.
  12. Turn it on.
  13. On the printer’s control panel, swipe left and go to Setup / Printer Maintenance and select Clean Printhead.
  14. Clean the print heads.

At this point, my printer was working again. You may not have the same success, of course, and you shouldn’t do this if your printer is still under warranty. My printer was 18 months old and was out of warranty.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Why SharePoint is a document graveyard, and how to fix it

Many SharePoint installations quickly become a "document graveyard", and many bloggers blame the installation process and recommend that document tags be used, but the real reasons why SharePoint sites are document graveyards are more fundamental, and they are all to do with usability.

Tags are not the answer

The main solution people put forward is to use tags, but this overlooks the fact that a directory of documents contains very little indication of what each document is actually about: all you have to tell you what is in the document is the filename, the directory's name and path, and some tags!
What you need is a detailed context... in a document you can easily view.

Opening a Document isn't as easy as opening a web page

Why isn't Wikipedia a web-page graveyard but SharePoint is a document graveyard?
Why isn't the World Wide Web a graveyard of web pages, but SharePoint is a graveyward?

It's because of three things:

Web pages are easily accessible,
but opening documents has a cost

Firstly, the friction of opening a document from SharePoint, and returning to where you left off in your browser, while small, is enough to make you pause.

Web pages have information about them,
but documents just have names, tags and directories

Web pages are easily navigable,
but Word Documents lock you into that document

SharePoint Documents don't have the full context of the web. They are isolated from where they came from: if you open a document, you are now in "Word", not your browser - you've lost your context. So you've now lost your "back" button, your connection to other web pages, and so on - you're isolated in that document, where as on the web, you're connected to everything else.

SharePoint does a poor job of displaying its folder structure

Even worse, Sharepoint doesn't fully list your document's path when you navigate directories (as of 2014)! This simple missing feature (and you can find a fix for it here) means navigating back up your directory path is painful in SharePoint, and you can't easily see your folder structure.

In other words, there's a hidden hurdle to using Word Documents: it's the cost of opening a Word Document via SharePoint: it involves waiting for the document to load in Word, and it removes you from the hypertext environment of the browser. This friction is what isolates Word Documents and other non-HTML pages.

Admitedly, Microsoft have done an outstanding job of integrating Word Documents into the browser - you can even edit right inside the browser.

Now, the SharePoint feature that presents a Word Document, or Excel Spreadsheet,  immediately open in the browser is a great step forward.

Use Wiki pages to direct you to Word Documents

The answer is to use SharePoint's Wiki pages as the trunk of the tree, and to use the Documents and other files as the leaves on the tree. To get to the leaf you want, you start at the main trunk, which is a Wiki page which tells you where to go to get to sub-pages aka. branches, which are themselves wiki pages which tell you to more branches until you find the wiki page that points to the document you want - the same as you can easily find information on the internet without anyone having to put tags on their pages!

So to make SharePoint work for you, place a Wiki page on top of all your directories so that you can write about each document (or list of documents) and tell people what to expect when they open those documents.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

How to get a technical person to fix your problem

So you have a technical problem and you want to get somebody to fix it but when you talk to your techie, he says "it works ok for me; go away". Here's how to get your problem fixed:

  1. State exactly what is wrong
  2. State what you expected it to be
  3. Draw a red box around the problem on a screen shot.
  4. Write out the exact steps to reproduce the problem.
  5. State which computer and login you used to get the error.

If you give this information to the support department, programmer, technician, or whoever, you'll have a far greater chance of getting your problem fixed.

For more explanation, see this related post: 4 critical things to include in a problem report.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

How to avoid echoes in a phone conference using Zoom or GotoMeeting

If you've used web conference system such as Zoom or GotoMeeting or similar, you probably have encountered the problem of echoes. Here's three guidelines for a good audio conference:

1. Mute yourself when not speaking.

Train everybody to mute themselves when they're not speaking; this is The Golden Rule for good audio conferences.

2. Use the phone rather than computer for audio.

The phone is built for audio; it's simple and reliable; by contrast, computers and their TCP/IP networks are not designed for voice. Their microphones are near the keyboard and fan, from which they pick up unwanted noise; their speakers are acoustically very close to their microphones; TCP/IP is not designed to carry voice even though we have many VOIP systems. The phone just wins, hands down.
Only use your PC for screen-sharing, not sound.
Only use the computer for voice if you really have to.

3. Only use ONE audio device per room.

Do not have two PC's running audio, or two phones on speaker, in the same room, or you will most likely get bad echoes.

For more in-depth technical solutions to audio and video conferencing, see this article.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

How to fix Blender menus not working on Windows XP

Problem: I can't see my menus on Blender on Windows XP
Solution: If you install Blender (I installed 2.57.0) on Windows XP as Administrator, then a non-Administrator user won't see any menus when they start Blender. To fix this, log in as Administrator then copy everything from C:\Documents and Settings\<your-user>\Application Data\Blender Foundation to the user that wants to run Blender.

6 simple steps to keep your PC running smoothly

This is the basic formula to keep your Windows PC running smoothly:
Keep it clean and simple.
  1. Buy decent hardware; otherwise it's just an up-hill battle.
  2. Back up your PC! Always have a backup.
  3. Install Windows Updates and keep up to date.
    In spite of what people say about Windows Updates screwing everything up, it's inadvisable to stay behind; if things do go wrong in an update, you should roll back immediately.
  4. Install virus protection.
  5. Install as little software as possible!
    Only install trusted software, not every piece of software you can download. Do not install lots of toolbars in your browser! Do not have lots of things sitting on your desktop; get rid of the junk - put it in folders. Do not put files in the top-level C:\ directory; put all your files under "My Documents" or similar.
    The less programs you have wanting to be started up when you log in, the faster your PC will run, so keep your installed software to a minimum.
    Don't fill up the PC with junk; you should have at least 10% or 1Gb free disk space for the operating system to work with, whichever is smaller.
  6. For normal day-to-day use, do not run as an administrator.
    This is a big problem with Windows XP that was addressed somewhat in Windows Vista and 7 - users should NOT normally have administrator privileges; that is just asking for trouble.

8 simple steps to fix your PC running slow

If your PC is running slow, do these basic steps first:
  1. Do a backup.
  2. Remove files not needed - especially off your desktop; the fewer files on your desktop, the faster it will run.
  3. Uninstall unwanted programs.
  4. Uninstall unwanted toolbars from your browsers.
  5. Run a reputable registry cleaner program. CC-Cleaner is alright. Watch out for others; there are many that look like they are loaded with malware.
  6. Get rid of programs that start up when you log in but don't need to be running.
  7. Empty the trash can.
  8. Defrag your hard disk.