Wednesday, January 17, 2018

GEEK Electric Heater – Best Little Area Warmer I Have Seen

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This little heater costs around 60 bucks on and is an amazing little value. I can’t find the original brand on Amazon, but there are two versions that look identical on there as of right now, so I will add links to them both below.

I have been using it all winter and it makes life in an unheated basement bearable. The swing function works perfectly and the heat is more than adequate. If you walk away from it while running, it will eventually shut off, so I think it is pretty safe as well.

My experience is positive enough to recommend this unit. I looked a long time for one that was small and unobtrusive and this fits the bill. It's also heavy for its size and feels well made.

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YouTube Sucks all of the Joy out of Creating Videos

One of the pleasures of YouTube is getting a few dollars for your efforts. I have been monetizing my videos for years and the trickle of money is small, but something that is surprisingly pleasant. It’s just nice to see a little bit come back for your time and effort.

But no more. Small channels like mine are being completely shut out as the threshold is now 1000 subscribers (I have about 450) and 4,000 hours of watch time in the past year (I had 3950 in the last 365 days!!!).

They gave me 30 days to more than double my subscribers and increase watch time just enough to get 4000 hours. I can do the latter, but the former is essentially impossible.

So Google and YouTube have taken all the fun out of growing a channel. The little bit of reinforcement you get every month is gone.

What were they thinking?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Epson Printer is Alive! Was: I’m throwing away a perfectly good Epson printer because of their nasty policy to disable off brand ink cartridges :-(

Updated 23 March 2018

In the end, I could not throw one of my favourite printers away. My experiment with HP was a bust, and the excellent Canon printer I was given by a friend is having problems, so I looked around to see if anyone could claim to be compatible with the firmware update that fried my inks earlier this year. And I found one that had good Amazon ratings and comments that said it works with this year’s firmware update.

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So I took a chance and bought a complete set of the XL sizes with one extra non-photo black ink.

And low, and behold …

So I printed a test page and it looks perfect, except for a big blob of black ink. A second test page came out clean. SO I have my printer back and Epson is (temporarily) forgiven.

Of course, the very first thing I saw after the printer inks charged the heads was an announcement that there was a new firmware update available and that I should add it via the menus. Like that could ever happen again LOL.

Previous text in article …

As a photographer, I have always been partial to Epson printers. They do have issues like easily clogged heads, but I have always been happy with their output. I acquired a $150 Epson XP-530 Expression Premium Small-In-One (what a mouthful) for about $50 on sale last year at Best Buy, and I have to say that it is in many ways magnificent. It uses two black cartridges – a huge black cartridge for paper and a small cartridge as a fourth color, called photo black (presumably a pigment based ink for more realistic photos). I have not printed photos with it though, and yet the photo black is almost empty, which makes it a total waste.

But the point of this article is that I did replace the inks once already. I cannot fathom paying over $120 for a set of inks for this printer, even though these are XL sized cartridges (more ink, same cartridge). The smaller set can be had for around 60 bucks plus tax. So at the time, I bought a much more reasonably priced set of inks on Amazon from a company called SaveOnMany. The set had five stars and I had no problem with the inks. Installed easily and printed perfectly. What’s not to love?

Well, for one, Epson’s aggressive policy to update firmware to stop recognizing third party cartridges once it has their signatures. And of course I foolishly accepted the latest firmware and my cartridges are suddenly not recognized. This would not be suspicious if it were just one cartridge … but it is all four of the SaveOnMany cartridges. The OEM photo black is still recognized perfectly.

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Now … I can keep this very nice printer and spend a fortune on inks, or for a little more than the cost of the smallest set of inks and way less than the cost of the XL sized inks I can buy the latest generation of HP printers that are on sale right now for $81, as in 57% off. The new printer would not have photo black ink, but then I have not yet printed anything on photographic paper with the Epson either. So that’s not an impediment.

I have read that HP swears that all compatible cartridges are supported, and so I am going out today to buy my very first HP printer. I’m actually a bit excited, since I have never owned one.

Updated on 18 January 2018

So I did acquire the HP printer a couple of days ago -- an OfficeJet Pro 6978 -- and it is a beast. Very impressive physical design, and terrific colours and text quality. Looks like the best laser printers.

But ... their setup is pretty confusing, especially for Canadians. Their ink subscriptions default to USA and Canadians cannot proceed properly, which seems to affect the installation itself. Typical conflation of features between installation and up-sell. When will people learn to write things down before typing in the code?

Anyway, I got it working, but some features still fail (scan to computer, occasional loss of connectivity for printing). For now I think it is probably worth it, but I have to admit that I am not in love with HP yet. I will give it time.

So my bottom line so far is that I think Brother printers are easiest to use and their main flaw is that the heads fail completely after a few years; Epsons are still my favourites for output and features overall but they have horrible corporate policies towards 3rd party inks and being evil negates all the rest; Canons are quite good but their print heads fail after a while; and HPs are rather hard to get working well. Surprisingly so, considering that HP is an 800 pound Gorilla in this business. But the HP output may prove to be worth the pain, so I plan to keep at it until I know either way.

Updated on 10 February 2018

In 3.5 weeks, the HP has completely died. I’ve researched the error and it is the end of the line. Wow …

And thus I have revised my printer rankings:

  1. Epson is the best overall, but the company is evil. Turn off all firmware updates if you don’t want to get fleeced by these guys.
  2. Brother is second overall, but early failure happens.
  3. Canon is pretty darned good, but I have found in the past that their prints heads are finicky and will just give up at some point.
  4. HP is crap. Sorry, but my horrid install experience was followed in 3 weeks by a total printer failure. That’s crap.

Sadly, I seem to have lost my receipt, and so I think I am completely screwed. Believe it or not, I am going to go and buy ink for the Epson. I will have to go OEM for now, but 6 months from now I will be able to use third party inks, and I will never allow my printer to take a firmware update again.

Updated on 14 February 2018

I finally decided to call HP to see what could be done, and they were very understanding. The process was a bit convoluted (what isn't with this company?), but they got it done. The support person said that she would normally take me through the steps I had already tried, but because the printer had a hardware fault in such a short time, I could take it back to the store. At this point, the tech support person that had been helping me through the process gave me a case number, and a short while later I got an email with the case notes. I am to print that and take it to the store I bought it at (Staples) and they will swap it for a new one. If I actually get a new one, and if it works for a good long while, and if inks are not crazy expensive, then HP will be risen much higher in my estimation. I'll update again once I get the new printer.