Archive for February, 2010

Understanding How Your Laser Printer Works

Posted on February 25, 2010. Filed under: Learn How Your Laser Printer Works |

Laser Printing print sequence

Step 1: cleaning
first the rubber cleaning blade scrapes any toner left on the drum into a used toner receptacle, then a flourescent lamp discharges any charge on the drum (it loses its charge when exposed to light). The EP cartridge is constantly cleaning the drum for a fresh, clear print.

Step 2:charging
the charging corona (a wire or roller) within the EP toner cartridge gets a high voltage from the HVPS (high voltage power supply) to apply a strong, uniform negative charge (-66VDC) to the surface of the drum (the drum looks like a large rolling-pin wo/ handles).

Step 3: Writing
the laser is now on and scans the drum from side to side, flashing on and off reducing the -600 VDC to a slight negative charge (-100VDC) only in the areas it touches based on the information for the print job. Then the pick up roller starts to feed a piece of paper into the printer.

Step 4: Developing
the drum now holds an electrical representation of the image to be printed. The toner is transferred to the areas that were exposed in the writing step. A metallic developing roller inside the EP cartridge acquires a -600 VDC charge from the HVPS. The toner sticks to the magnetic roller. The toner now acquires the charge of the roller (-600VDC). When the toner comes between the developing roller and the drum the toner is attracted to the areas that have been exposed by the laser (with the lesser -100VDC charge). The toner is repelled from the areas that have the same -600VDC charge. The drum now has toner stuck to it where the laser has written.

Step 5: transferring
the controller signals for the paper to be picked up and fed into the machine- as it moves under the drum the image transfers to the paper

Step 6: fusing
then the 350 degree F fuser grabs the paper and melts the polyester resin of th toner making the transfer permanent. The paper continues through the printer and exits. This trips a sensor to start the cleaning cycle (step 1).

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How to Install and Configure Any Printer

Posted on February 25, 2010. Filed under: How To Install A Printer |


  1. Attach the device on a flat service with no power using a local (i.e. USB or FireWire/IEEE 1394b) or network (Ethernet or RJ-45) port and then connect the power. FireWire is good for graphics, typesetting, art, and photo printing.
  2.  Turn on the computer and wait for Windows to recognize the printer (found new hardware). When the Wizard window pops up either install and update the device driver from a CD or DVD or from a driver file on your computer or from the manufacturers website for operating system (i.e. find a HP printer driver for Windows 7 on HP’s website). The wizard will take you through the set up proces. If Windows doesn’t recognize the hardware you can use the Add Hardware Wizard to troubleshoot installation and to install drivers. When you install your printer driver, you will often have to make the choice between PCI, PS or PCIL, PS, and GDI (printer language) drivers. Check your manual for which one you should choose. However, many newer printers can handle both PS and PCL (and GDI) and will automatically translate for you. However, if your printer prints garbled characters you have chosen wrong.
  3. Some printers, such as ink jet printers require that you calibrate the device- each printer is different, but a typical alignment/calibration will ask you if you would like to calibrate now (yes or OK), the printer prints out a sheet with multiple sets of numbered lines, the software asks you which sets looks best- enter the number and click OK.
  4. Configure options and default settings. Go to Control Panel>Printers or Hardware and Sound> Right click on your printer and then choose printing preference. From here you can choose the layout or orientation (portrait vs. landscape), the quality of the print job, paper size, two sided printing and use of color or B&W.
  5. Now we will configure the printer properties which you can find by right clicking on your printer icon. In Windows Vista choose Run as administrator and then choose properties. Here you can choose to share the printer, set up the port that it’s on, configure when the printer will be available throughout the day and to which specific users, you can also configure the spool settings. For faster printing, you should always spool the jobs instead of printing directly to the printer. However, if the printer is printing garbage, you can try printing directly to it to see if the spooler is causing the problem. …
  6.  Print a test page.
  7. Verify compatibility with the operating system and applications.
  8. Educate users about basic functionality.
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What To Buy and Not Buy For Your Printer

Posted on February 25, 2010. Filed under: Fix Your Printer Problems |

Are you having printing problems?  Buying the right stuff for your printer may fix the problem.

Never buy used ink cartridge refill kits. These kits don’t use the right kind of ink, the ink is often thinner and may leak through the hole made by the syringe. They also won’t replace the printhead which comes with a new ink cartridge so quality will suffer

Only buy new ink cartridges from the printer manufacturer. If you have an HP printer, buy HP ink cartridges.

Do not refill toner cartridges for laser printers. The printout quality will be poor, the drum will not be replaced as needed. Replacing the toner cartridges with proper, name-brand toner cartridges solves most laser printer quality problems.

Always recycle your inkjet and toner cartridges, but don’t buy recycled cartridges.

Paper- for best results use the kind of paper designated by the printer, the print quality will be the best and paper jams less frequent or non-existent

Labels- be careful using labels- make sure you use the kind made for printers. Manufacturers that make printers have templates you can download from their website ( that can be used in Microsoft Word and make it easy to print labels.

Transparencies- only use the kind of transparencies that work with your kind of printer- you risk ruining your printer if you use the wrong kind (it could melt to the inside of your printer permanently).

For help in what type of printer, or what type of printer upgrades to buy click here.

You are now set to have a healthy, happy printer.

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Choosing A Printer: Which Type Is Best

Posted on February 25, 2010. Filed under: Choosing A Printer: Which Type Is Best |

The 4 most popular types of printers include the following: Impact, Dot-matrix, Laser and LED

Impact– these printers work like typewriters, both use an ink ribbon and an impact to make a print on the paper. The two major types of impact printers are daisy wheel and dot matrix. Impact printers can print on multipart forms (like carbonless receipts).

Daisy wheel printers work with a spinning character wheel. These printers are loud and slow, but they have some advantages. They are inexpensive and the print quality is good (Letter Quality or LQ). They might be hard to find though because they are not being made anymore.

Dot-Matrix printers work with a row of pins that are triggered in patterns that form characters as the printhead moves across the paper. The image quality is not as good as the daisy wheel. Modern dot-matrix printers are labeled Near Letter Quality or NLQ. They are quieter than daisy wheel printers due to the plastic dust cover. They are also faster then daisy wheel printers.

Note: Most impact printers have an option to adjust how close the printhead rests from the ribbon. If your printing is too light, adjust it closer to the ribbon. Too dark or smearing? Move it back.

Inkjet– these page printers spray ink on the page to form characters. The most popular modern form of the ink-jet is called the Bubble Jet Printer. The printhead of the Bubble jet printer moves back and forth across the paper and sprays bubbles of ink onto the page to form characters. Bubble Jets are inexpensive, simple and high quality. They require multiple ink cartridges, one for each of the CMYK colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black).

Electrophotgraphic (EP) Laser Printers – These are the most popular top-end printers. They use a combination of static electric charges, laser light and toner to print. They are referred to as a page printer because they receive print instructions one page at a time, rather than one line at a time. When someone refers to a laser printer they are referring to the Electrophotgraphic (EP) Laser Printer, but there is a similar printer called the Light-Emitting Diode (LED) Printer which has some advantages.

Light-Emitting Diode (LED) Printers offer several advantages over laser printers. They are much cheaper because they use LED instead of lasers. The printer is smaller, and they don’t carry the risks associated with lasers (such as eye damage). However, their resolution has not caught up with laser printers yet. The toner system it utilizes is more efficient, but messier due to its slight static charge.

It is possible to upgrade your printer. Each manufacturer, with the documentation for each printer, includes a list of all the asccessories, options, and upgrades available for that printer. They could include:

Memory– the larger the memory the larger a print job it can handle (increases buffer size),

Hard drives– hard drives can be added to many printers. These hard drives can be used to store many fonts used during the print process and are also used to store the large document files while it is being processed for printing,

Print server with a network card interface– the card you install in your printer for network connections must be proprietary, or in other words made by the same manufacturer as the printer, it allows a network connection without a host network computer, it speeds up the printing jobs, it often comes with management software so anyone on the network can check the status of their print jobs, as well as toner levels.

Trays and Feeders– adding more paper trays means that users don’t have to refill paper as much, it also means that different kinds of paper can be used at the same time (stationary, envelopes). An envelope feeder is another attachment that makes envelope printing run smoother.

Finishers– this can fold, staple, hole punch, sort or collate documents

Scanners, Fax Modems and Copiers– these can be added or attached to some printers. However, it would be preferable to purchase a multifunction printer that is already a printer, copier, scanner and fax machine in one- rather then adding them on later.

Have fun shopping for a printer!

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Should You Upgrade Your Windows Operating System?

Posted on February 23, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Whether or not you are thinking about the new Windows 7 or simply wanting to upgrade to Windows XP you need to know if your current computer/printer/software applications etc. can handle an upgrade.

(To find out what operating system you are currently using- click Start> right-click on My Computer> choose Properties and it will be listed at the top.)

How do you know if your current system can handle an upgrade? 

To answer this question, Microsoft has a list (now called Windows Catalog) that  will help you. This list is found at . There is also an online tool available that will scan your computer and tell you if it is compatible with Windows 7.

Here are the recommended hardware specifications for Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista. This is the recommended not the minimum requirement:

Windows 2000 Professional

Pentium ll or higher processor
128MB or more memory
2GB+ free hard disk space
Floppy Disk
SuperVGA video

Windows XP Professional

300 MHz or higher Intel-compatible processor
128MB memory
1.5GB free hard disk space
SuperVGA or better Video

Windows Vista Home

1GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
512MB memory
15GB free on a 20GB drive
video: Direct-X 9 graphics and 32MG graphics memory
Internet Access

Windows Vista Home Premium/Business/Ultimate Recommendation

1GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
1GB memory
15GB free disk space on a 40GB drive
Video: DirectX 9 with WDDM Driver, 128MB graphics memory, Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware, 32 bits per pixel
Internet Access

The Windows Vista advisor can help you also: .

Other hardware- sound cards, network cards, modems, video cards, etc. may or may not work with your new Windows operating system. If the device is newer, it will probably work with the newest operating system. If it is older, you will need to find out who made the harware and check their website to see if they have drivers for the new version of Windows you are installing. Good luck!

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How To Prolong The Life of Your Laptop Battery

Posted on February 12, 2010. Filed under: Prolong The Life Of Your Laptop Battery |

The first thing you need to know is what type of battery your laptop uses: NiCd, NiMH, Lithium-ion (Li-Ion), or Lithium-polymer. Once you know this you can learn more about it below.

NiCd (Nickel Cadium) batteries have a low energy density. These are great for portable power tools or devices that rely on ready bursts of power. Laptops need something that will sustain longer, so this is not a great battery for a laptop. However, if you are using a NiCd battery you need to completely discharge the battery (let it run out completely before recharging) at least once a month. This is known as exercising the battery. If the battery is left unused or not completely discharged over a 3 month period it might need to be reconditioned in order to be salvaged. NiCd batteries lose 10 percent of their capacity right after charging and another 10 percent each month they are left unused. However, you can recharge NiCd batteries over 1,000 times- even up to 2,000 times. Take note also that new NiCd batteries or those that have been left unused may require a slow charge followed by repeated discharge/recharge cycling to redistribute the electrolyte evenly.

NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) batteries have 40 percent higher energy density than NiCd. These are also great for portable power tools or devices that rely on ready bursts of power and not the best choice for laptops. The NiMH battery needs to be discharged completely (exercised) once every 3 months and is good for about 300 charging cycles.

If your lap-top uses a Li-Ion (Lithium-Ion) battery it will last longest if you do the following: Partially discharge it and recharge it on a regular basis as you use it, then, only one time per month run the battery until it completely loses power- allow a full discharge. This is called battery calibration and is important to do about once per month to keep the digital memory healthy. However, if you let the battery run out completely too often you will shorten the life of the battery. Exposure to heat may also speed up the aging process of the battery. Laptop batteries that are left plugged in at maximum charge will cause the excess heat you want to avoid. Your battery should be kept in a cool place with about 40 percent charge while not being used.

Your lap-top might use a Lithium-polymer battery. This new battery is similar to the Li-Ion, but is smaller, more flexible, and lighter. It is often used in ultra-light notebooks, super-slim cell phones and MP3 players. The down side is that it is less energy dense, expensive and has no standard sizes. You can care for this the same way as the Li-Ion battery.

Laptops have to use either batteries or an AC (the wall) or DC (the cigarette lighter in the car) power source. AC power has to be converted to DC power through the small brick-like adapter on the cable. If you need to replace your AC power adapter choose one that is rated for the same or higher wattage- also make sure the plug has the same polarity as the original (looks the same). Also make sure that the voltage is correct for the country you are using the computer. Some adapters automatically switch to the right voltage within a specified range.

Managing your power efficiently will give your battery a longer life. Thanks to ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) you can control your power management through your operating system (i.e. Windows).  ACPI defines four power level states, called global states. These four power states include the following:

G0 Working– the normal working state of the computer. It is in full power. However, in this state various devices can be put into lower power modes. Their are four peripheral device states and include the following: D0-fully on, D1 and D2-less power, D3- completely powered down.

G1 Sleeping- a power-saving mode that ranges from S1-S4.

S1 means that the CPU is powered, but not giving instructions, the processor is powered, but the cache is flushed, all devices not being used are not powered.

S2 uses less power because the processor is not powered.

Processors can be powered down as follows:  C0– fully on, C1, or Halt is barely powered down, C2, or Stop-Clock is less power than C1, but takes longer to bring back, C3 is sleep mode and the highest energy saver, the cache is flushed and takes the longest to bring back to full power

S3 is called Standby in Windows. Only the RAM is powered, so when the computer is brought back to full power a user can start tight where they left off. However, if the laptop loses power (battery dies, gets unplugged,      power outage) all of the information is lost.

S4 is called Suspend to Disk or Hibernation in Windows. This is the highest energy saver. The information is written to the hard disk and RAM is not powered. If a power loss occurs, nothing will be lost, but it takes a long time for all of the applications to be ready for use, once brought to full power out of hibernation.

G2 Soft off- This is when you turn off the computer by clicking on the shutdown button and letting it power off. It requires a full boot process to restart. However, the computer still has a powered battery installed or is plugged into a working outlet.

G3 Mechanical off- This is when you disconnect all power to the laptop- unplug it. This is the only state in which a repair to the laptop should be made.

Intel’s SpeedStep and AMD’s Cool ‘n Quiet are called Performance States and can be utilized to use less power when in normal running mode.

Power management settings should be enabled by default.

In Windows XP, open Control Panel> Performance and Maintenance> Power options

In Windows Vista, open Control Panel>Mobile PC> Power options

In Classic view of Control Panel the Power Options applet has its own icon. You can also right-click on an empty area of the Desktop, click Properties, select Screen Saver and click the Power button.

You can do this on a desktop computer, too, but it will probably not have the Alarms and Power Meter tabs and may have a UPS tab for an uninterruptible power supply.

For your laptop, Under Power scheme it will probably be set on Portable/Laptop, but you can change it to what you want, then you can define separate settings for when the laptop is plugged in verses running on the battery.

The Alarms tab allows you to set how your system will respond when battery power gets low. The Power Meter tab shows you the current battery life. You can get the same information by clicking the battery icon in your system tray.

The Advanced tab lets you set the function of the power buttons.

The Hibernate tab allows you to decide whether your computer can enter Hibernation mode or not.

It is a good idea to be more conservative on power than the defaults in order to maximize your battery life.

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Understanding your Laptop (RAM, adapter cards, keyboard, etc.)

Posted on February 12, 2010. Filed under: Understanding Your Laptop |

There are two common types of laptop memory (RAM) packages: SODIMM and MicroDIMM. To see what kind of memory your laptop uses, check either the manual or the manufacturer’s website of your motherboard.

The most common type of memory for laptops is the SODIMM. Just like in desktop computers, you need to know whether your laptop accepts SDRAM (144 pin), DDR(200 pin), DDR2(200 pin), or DDR3 (204 pin). You can purchase these in 32 or 64-bit options. Check out if you have a 32 or 64 bit operating system by typing msinfo32 in your run box. Look for what it says under system type and processor. x86 means 32-bit and x64 means 64 bit. DDR2 and DDR3 can be purchased with 4GB which is on par with desktop DIMMS. A good place to browse for memory is

The MicroDIMM is newer then the SODIMM. It is smaller and designed for the ultralight and portable subnotebook style of computer. This also comes in DDR and DDR2, etc.

You can expand the capabilities of a laptop (or less commonly in a PC) by purchasing a PC card (CardBus). It supports USB 1.1 and PCI only. It uses Socket Services and Card Services software.PC cards come in the following types:

Type I cards are most commonly used for memory cards (3.3 mm thick).
Type II cards (most common) are mostly used for modems and LAN adapters, but also for sound cards, SCSI controllers and other devices (5mm thick).

You can also purchase ExpressCards to support faster versions of technologies; such as Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire (IEEE 1394b, and eSATA). The standard ExpressCard is known as ExpressCard\34. The ExpressCard\54 supports more applications such as card readers and CompactFlash readers- it also has better heat distribution. Expresscards use USB 2.0 and PCIe (express).

I wrote before about PCI and PCIe slots inside desktops, some laptops have mini PCI slots and/or mini PCIe slots. These cards reside internally in the laptop with their connection ports lining up with the edge of the outside case. Mini PCI cards function just like the PCI version 2.2 which is a 32-bit, 33MHz bus connection. Common Mini PCI cards include, sound, modems, networking, SCSI, ATA and SATA controllers. Common mini PCIe cards are equivalent to ExpressCards and can suppport USB 2.0 and PCIex1 functionality.

Since laptops are so small, many people use external (portable) floppy and/or optical drives (CD/DVD/Blu-ray). These are often attached through a USB port. External optical drive burners are great for backing up files on laptops.

Laptop keyboards can be a little more difficult to use then a standard keyboard due to their small size. Also, some laptop keys are consolidated into special multifunction keys (usually labeled Fn). You press and hold this down and then click on a key to change its function. It is also possible to plug in an external, regular sized keyboard.

Some laptops have a seperate mouse connection, but they also include another way to provide this input. One way is a trackball – you move the ball around with your thumb or finger. Another option is a point stick (or Touchpoint), released with the IBM ThinkPad which uses a small rubber stick to use like a touchscreen giving directions to the computer pointer (curser). Point sticks have some problems like the curser drifting when not in use, easily getting lost or becoming damaged. With the introduction of the Tablet PC, touchscreens are becoming more popular. This is the method used in the new Ipod touches and the Ipad as well.

To learn how to prolong the life of your laptop battery click here.

For help deciding between a laptop or desktop computer click here.

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Which Is Better: A Laptop or A Desktop Computer ?

Posted on February 12, 2010. Filed under: Choosing Between A Laptop or Desktop Computer |

Desktop computers are much less expensive then equivalent laptops. Desktops are faster and more powerful.

Laptops are more popular than desktops because they are portable. They are smaller and lighter and consume less power. They operate at lower voltages, and have more advanced power-down or sleep modes.

Laptops can connect to the Internet wirelessly wherever WiFi is available. The built-in wireless network is one of the best features of laptops.

A netbook is even smaller than a conventional laptop, so they are even more portable. Netbooks are also less expensive than larger laptops. Tablet PCs are laptops with a flip-around screen that allows a user to holdd it like a large notebook and write notes on it with a special stylus.

Laptops do not perform as well as equally priced desktops. To get a laptop that works as well or better than an average desktop is very expensive. Components for a laptop use the same types of technology as desktops, but are often subpar due to their smaller size. Their processors are smaller and the hard drives are about an inch smaller.

Desktops can be ugraded easily. It is impossible to upgrade the integrated proccessor or motherboard in a laptop. You can’t build your own laptop either. Laptops can only be upgraded through the use of external ports.

Laptops need to be more durable than desktops due to the wear and tear of carrying it around. If the computer case breaks you may need to replace the whole thing.

To save space, laptops often integrate many functions onto one circuitboard (called a daughterboard), such as video, audio and networking. This saves space, but it also means that if one part goes bad you have to replace the entire circuitboard. Chipsets, such as the Intel Pentium M chipset include built-in video processing and networking capabilities.

Heat is a concern for laptops due to their small size. You can’t run a big fan inside a laptop. Three ways to lower heat is to run the processor at a lower speed*, run the computer at a lower voltage, or use a cooling pad that the laptop sits on. Never run your laptop on a soft surface such as a blanket or a bed. Hard surfaces allows for cooling air flow.

Laptops will often run in a lower power state when on battery power to extend the battery life (called throttling)- this also helps to reduce heat.

If you are having a hard time choosing between a laptop or a desktop you might consider a docking station. This is when a laptop is plugged into a computer station for daily use, but then can be unplugged for mobile use. The docking station allows the laptop to function like a desk top computer. For this to work, your laptop has to have a docking port. This is used to connect the laptop to the docking station. The docking station stays behind when your laptop is removed. The great thing about the docking station is that is utilizes full-sized drive bays and expansion bus slots that are not possible inside a laptop. It also includes a port replicator that reproduces the functions of the ports on the laptop so that such things as monitors, keyboards, printers, etc can remain connected to the dock instead of the laptop, so that the laptop can be easily removed. It is important to note that a laptop’s docking port only works with the docking stations designed by the same, specific laptop’s manufacturer.

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