Classic Dishes...

Whaddaya Think Of THIS, Michael?

I’m driving into work today, and I notice a Mitsubishi Eclipse in front of me. Cars don’t usually jump out at me. I don’t have that yearning for a new car every three years that most of America seems to; I’ve had my Honda Civic since 1996, it gets me where I need to go, it’s still running great, and I’m perfectly happy with it.

But this one did. Mostly because the owner had performed a modification to the third brake light, the one in the center. It was modded so that instead of just a light coming on, a small line of LEDs would bounce back and forth horizontally when the brake pedal was depressed.

It felt like KITT was mooning me.

That’s Not Glaze

It’s my goal to acquire national fame for Chez Fred by becoming a clearinghouse for video clips of news broadcasts that have screwed the pooch. Sadly, the bastards at KTVU made YouTube take down my clip heralding the comic genius of Mike Litoris, so you may want to watch this one while you can.

First, a little background. I frequently read a website called Fark. They basically feature discussion threads on news stories that people submit, along with a funny headline. Similar goings-on happen at another website, Something Awful.

One feature occurring on both sites is the occasional Photoshop contest; a topic or source picture will be thrown out there, and people will use their favorite image-manipulation software (open-source whoring time: my favorite is the GIMP) to create a funny image based on that. Then everyone votes for the one they like best.

That’s where the source for the following came from:

For those who still can’t quite make it out, here’s the original source image:

Magical. Part of me feels for the poor technical director who made that graphic, and the other part wonders what the hell they were doing searching the open Internet for source images…

Two Tens For A Five

While the rest of the world has criticized Microsoft pretty strongly for missing the Christmas season with the release of Windows Vista, I have discovered that it dropped at pretty much the perfect time for me: tax refund season. So, between this and the discovery that Adobe Encore won’t run on my old AMD Athlon XP processor, Operation Core 2 Duo is now in full swing.

So over the last couple of days, I’ve been making the rounds, checking out what’s out there, what parts I can get for what I’m willing to pay, that sort of thing. And in Pricewatching and Froogling the motherboard I selected to make sure I was indeed getting the best price, I clicked a link for a place offering it on sale at a bargain price:

I wonder what coupons look like in their world.

PostScript: Printer

Bear with me on this one, folks, I want to make sure my Google ranking on this post is good and high.

(Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks.)

So, Thursday night, I’m going to print something out on my printer recently unclogged by proximity…and I get more streaks. Dammit.

(Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks.)

So it’s time to bring out the cleaning fluid I purchased from Followed all of the directions, and….nothing. Printer is no longer a going concern.

(Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks.)

Let me just say that I don’t blame the Laser Service folks in the least, which is why I still link them above. Their fluid clearly works…I got some ink on my fingers in the process of all of this cleaning, and out of curiosity I put a little of the fluid on a paper towel, and it does indeed break it down and clean it right off, better than rubbing alcohol, even. Their stuff works. It’s just that Epson makes a crappy printer with an ink formulation prone to clogging, and once it does, you’re screwed. The days of Epson being a brand known for quality products are over.

(Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks.)

And so (Epson sucks) it is with great optimism (Epson sucks) that I shall spend today deciding (Epson sucks) between two Canon’s: the PIXMA MP510 and (Epson sucks) the PIXMA MP600. I also shall not (Epson sucks) be recommending (Epson sucks) an Epson printer (Epson sucks) ever again. They’ve (Epson sucks) made (Epson sucks) a (Epson sucks) sworn (Epson sucks) enemy.

Oh, and Epson sucks.

POSTSCRIPT REDUX: I splurged and went with the PIXMA MP600. Bigger display, and better and more conveniently located controls; it should be here this coming week. I’m excited. And Epson still sucks.

Printer Repair Made Easy….REALLY Easy

The weekend before this last one, I was poking around on Amazon, picking up a couple of things with a gift certificate I received as a Christmas gift. I finished my purchase, and, because I’m anal like that, went to print my usual invoice so I can reconcile my credit card account at the end of the month.

The printer, as it is wont to do (and as I was expecting to happen fairly soon) informs me that the Yellow cartridge has kicked and needs replacing. So I do so, and it goes back to work.

And the page comes out streaked. Uh-oh.

Now, I’m fairly confident when it comes to computer hardware. I roll up my sleeves, dive in, and eventually it gets fixed. But printers I am UTTERLY clueless about, and that’s kinda how I like it. They’re a pain in the ass.

However, there are at least a couple things I do know how to do: I print out a nozzle check, and lo and behold, several of them aren’t producing anything. Initiate head cleaning subroutine, lather, rinse, repeat, exact same nozzle pattern. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a clog.

The irony here kicks in on a couple of levels. On the top, we have the printer itself, an Epson CX6400. I bought Epson mainly because I was tired of replacing the all-in-one color cartridge on my old HP DeskJet 660C warhorse just because the yellow or magenta wore out, knowing that I was tossing away perfectly good cyan ink. So I wanted a printer that used discrete color carts. I also wanted a scanner and a memory card reader, and the CX6400 has all of that in one box.

The one thing that the HP had going for it, however, was that the print head was contained in the ink cartridge. So if it clogs, you chuck it, put in a new cart, and boom, new print head. With an individual ink-tank printer, if it clogs, you have to deal with it. Clogging is about the one thing that can screw you, in fact.

So, yeah, ironic.

Then, on the deeper level, in researching this whole thing, I discover that the CX6400 (and indeed any printer that uses Epson DuraBrite ink) is infamous for developing clogs after a couple years, because of the formulation of the ink, and because of this the DuraBrite printers are pretty much considered the scourge of Epson’s product line.

I bought this printer Christmas of 2004, and put in into service a week later. So I’ve had the printer exactly 2 years.

So, yeah, ironic.

Anyhow, when a friend of mine had a similar problem with her Epson, I did a little Googling and found, which gives advice for dealing with this sort of thing, in the name of getting you to buy their materials to fix it with. So, figuring I should follow my own advice, I order up some Head Cleaning Solution Plus, and figure out how to get through the week without printing anything. I don’t have high hopes for it, but after a couple days I make peace with the whole situation, figuring that if I DO have to replace the thing (and it kills me that tossing out what is otherwise a functional printer and STILL a fully-functioning memory card reader and scanner is actually cheaper than replacing the dead print head), I can get one that, well, isn’t universally hated.

I found that I print up a lot more over the course of a week than I thought.

Now, I don’t want the ink backing up too much (I figure I have enough problems), and running head cleanings and nozzle checks use ink, so I tried to leave it alone while I waited for the Magic Solvent to arrive. But, after a couple of days, curiosity got the better of me, and I ran another nozzle check. And it’s still not clean, but it’s a TEENY bit better than it was. But it’s still consistent, so I figure there’s still some clogging problems.

Finally, Friday, the stuff arrives: a little bottle of Magic Solvent, about an inch of surgical tubing, and a small syringe. I’m not really home for any length of time until Sunday, so printer servicing is going to have to wait until then.

Sunday morning comes, and I take a deep breath and head out to the living room to begin the surgery. Before I do so, though, I want to print out a receipt for something else I bought online, and I figure if it’s streaky, what the hell, I’ll just deal with it; I’m gonna chuck it when the credit card statement comes anyhow.

It prints flawlessly.

I do a double-take, and print up a nozzle check.

Perfect. Not one empty spot on it. Not one.

So, I have to offer up full kudos to the gang at Laser Service, proprietors of, for producing what is to the best of my knowledge the first effective print head cleaning solution that not only works as advertised, but doesn’t even have to be APPLIED TO THE PRINTER.