Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Good network printer/scanner wanted

I have a Lexmark X4550 printer/scanner/copier. I love that I can scan stuff and that it's wifi, and that it's pretty fast, but I hate so much else about it. I have been in the market for a better unit since the day I got it, but can't seem to find just the right thing.

It requires you to install a bunch of software on your computer. It's clearly not very good software, and I worry about what havoc it could be causing. It's a slow install, too. Also, there are 6 different versions, by OS. So for each computer I have to download again. And because it's big, the download is far from instant.

To scan over Wi-Fi, it goes like this:
  1. load the document
  2. switch to scan mode
  3. browse a list of destination computers, and pick one
  4. wait while it queries the computer for "applications"
    • This sometimes fails after a minute
    • These are things like "File, Email, Web Browser, and Computer"
    • "File" brings up a custom Save As dialog on the target computer. You can't hit ENTER, you have to actually click Save. If you scan again before saving, the first scan is lost.
    • "Computer" means to launch Lexmark's crappy scan touch-up software
  5. select an application (I always use File)
  6. click Scan Color or Scan Black 
  7. wait while it scans
  8. on the target computer, save the file
It has a USB port, so I can carry a laptop to it and plug in directly. This installs a second instance of the printer, which I don't really want, since I'm just trying to scan. When you do that with Windows Vista or 7, you can't use the Scan buttons any more. Instead you have to launch Windows Fax and Scan an use that interface. It's a fine interface, but it's at the computer, and scanning should happen at the scanner.

I have one pre-Vista machine, my Windows Home Server (which is based on Windows Server 2003). If I plug in to USB there, the Scan buttons follow the same sequence as Wi-Fi.

I don't scan that often, so I tolerate it, but every time I use it I am annoyed.

The print functionality is OK. The installed software insists on speaking "Printing Started" over the speakers. It sometimes fails to print with no obvious reason. Every print job asks me if I want to register, even if I check the "don't remind me again" option. It does paper jam more often than I expect, but maybe that's a hard problem.

The print & scan quality are good enough that I have no complaint.  And at my low usage level, the speed is fine.

What I really want

Small. I want something unobtrusive.

Internal paper trays. Less likely to get peanut butter on the paper.

1-touch scanning.  Load the document, click scan, and be done. The file should appear on a network share on my server ("\\SERVER\Scanned Documents").

Easy setup. On a new computer, do Add Printer -> Add network printer, and it finds it and downloads the driver from Windows Update.

Wi-Fi. I want to print from any computer in the house. But this isn't a requirement, because I could plug it in to the server and share it out there.

All-in-one isn't a requirement. I would accept a separate printer and scanner, if that's what it took. I'd even plug the scanner in to the server if that's what it took to get one-touch scanning. If they were separate units, I'd probably get a color laser from Dell Outlet, as they're not too expensive. The long-term costs are lower, as the toner doesn't age like inkjets, and I don't print much.

I've tried googling for printers, but it doesn't work. "network scanner" turns up packet sniffers. "scan to share" turns up anti-virus software.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Last fall a friend was moving from Port Townsend to Bainbridge, after her husband got a job in Seattle. They had just sold their second car, when they realized they needed a second car for a few weeks, until the move was done.

She decided to buy a really cheap truck and then sell it again 3 weeks later.

The next day she gave me a ride and asked if I needed a truck. I figured it would be useful for the house-building, so I said yes. I ended up buying the truck from the original seller, and loaning it to her for the 3 weeks, which simplified paperwork.

I paid $1000 for a 1975 Ford F-350 Ranger XLT (it's 35 years old). Gasoline engine, automatic transmission. A hundred things broken, but the chassis and engine may still be functional in another 35 years. 

It's an extended cab, which means I can carry the whole family. Between the very low gas mileage and the limited safety features, I avoid doing that. There are no shoulder belts, let alone airbags. The best thing I can say about it safety-wise is that it's heavy.

I bought a service manual right away. Here are things I know to be broken:

  • The rear window slides are full of moss
  • The rear sliding window panes are supposed to have aluminum borders, but they fell off
  • Turn signals / wipers / fuel gauge / heater fan sometimes don't turn on. Turning the ignition off and back on usually brings them back. I am guessing a bad relay.
  • Engine temperature gauge never moves.
  • One running light needs a new bulb
  • There's a socket under the hood for a lamp to light the engine; needs bulb
  • Driver's seat sometimes leans back by itself
  • Middle rear seat belt is broken.
  • Water leaks in somewhere, so the floor is usually wet.
  • Tailgate latch is broken on one side; pliers required to open.
  • Tailgate is warped, making it very hard to close.
  • Rear bumper is broken off the chassis on one side. Other side is strong enough to hold it on.
  • Lots of bare wires under the hood; what did they go to?
There are two gas tanks. I have replaced both gas caps. One was nearly impossible to open, because they key was cut wrong. I finally got the hang of it, but decided to stick with non-locking caps. The other one had a worn-out gasket, and I figured for safety and shelf-life a new cap was a good idea. 

Reid hates it. He doesn't like the smell. He sees how much is broken, and tells me I wasted my money. But it's a 1-ton truck, so it can carry a lot.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New blog for the house

I've created a new blog just to write about the house-building experience. The URL is http://jbazuzihouse.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

WAYK Arabic 1 - What's That?

I've been learning to play Where are your Keys since the first video appeared 4 months ago.

I spent the end of December visiting family, including my Arabic grandmother. She always wanted me to learn Arabic, and was disappointed that I hadn't done so. Now, at age 35, I was finally ready.

To use this video (and those that will follow), you'll first need to learn Where are your Keys. Do that at http://www.whereareyourkeys.org. Practice until you can are fluent in What's That? before you try to learn from my video. Also, my videos don't show full games, but instead the snippets necessary to get you started playing the game. You'll have to make the leap yourself.

I spent about a week learning the basic words and practicing with those that could help me. Arabic is a complex language, and I needed to figure out what parts to use with WAYK. Their impulse, of course, was to teach me the name of every object we came in contact with, and I had to resist that gently.

My elders were born in Jerusalem, and came to the United States in the 1970s to escape the violence. Their dialect is geographical; Arabs from other places speak differently. They were very poor, so they probably spoke differently than other classes. They are Christian, and that may affect their dialect as well.

My goal here isn't to be able to speak with Arabs I might meet; it's to get closer to my family. So, it was important to learn the exactly dialect of my grandmother. If you want to learn Arabic for a different purpose, you will need to find a different "Fluent Fool" to help you out.

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