Archive for December, 2009

Fun Project

HOUSEHOLD ORGANIZER:
CHRISTMAS CARD LIST

This time of year you may be receiving (and sending) Christmas Cards.  The latest installment of home organizer pages is a Christmas Card List where you can record who you’ve received cards from and note the return addresses from the cards to update your mailing list.  Check off names as you send cards so you can keep track.

Click here for Christmas Card  List (Word 03 document)
Click here for Christmas Card  List (pdf document)

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Step By Step Computer Tips


Using Picasa Photo Editing Software
PART 3: ONE-CLICK COLOR BALANCE AND ADDING TEXT TO PHOTOS

Previously we showed you how to download and install free Picasa software from Google which allows you to view, manage, and edit your photos all from one convenient location.  If you missed that issue, click here for Part 1 Instructions.

In Part 3, we’ll explore “I’m Feeling Lucky,” the one-click fix that automatically adjusts color and contrast to achieve the perfect color balance, and adding text to a photo–perfect for adding dates, locations, and other details to your photos while maintaining total control over the appearance and location of the text.

Click for Picasa Instructions- Part 3 Word 03 format)
Click for Picasa Instructions- Part 3 (Pdf format)

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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, PT. 2

  1. My printer won’t print. What can I do to fix it?
  2. Several things can cause the printer to fail. The most common problems are:

    1. If you cannot print from any application (Word, Excel etc), first check all the cables and the power cord to ensure they are connected properly. If everything is connected, more than likely it is a software problem. The wrong driver could have been installed or the computer does not recognize the printer.
    2. Most applications will print directly to the default printer. If your printer is not setup as the default printer, the job will not be sent to it. In the printer dialog box you can choose the printer you want to send the job to.
    3. If you get an out of memory error, the problem can be the file is too complicated for the printer. Try decreasing the amount of graphics on the page, the amount of fonts you using, and ungroup grouped objects.

    *Tip: If you are having problems printing, do not resend a print job several times because once you have fixed the problem you will have several copies of your document printing.

  3. Faxes I receive have white streaks across the page or the top and bottom are cut off.
  4. Your all-in-one printer may not be the problem. Static or interference on the telephone line can be the problem. Make a copy using the copy feature to see if the same problem occurs. If the copy looks good then the problem is probably the phone line not your printer.

  5. I am printing with my new photo printer but the paper will not feed.
  6. Are you using the right paper for the printer? If you are using a printer designed only to print pictures, you should not be using inkjet paper. Check your paper to make sure it is not damaged in any way or the removable tabs have not been detached. Reload the paper and resume printing. If the printer still is not feeding the paper, the paper feed rollers may be dirty. Check your printer’s user guide on how to clean the rollers

  7. Why does my printer jam?
  8. Paper jams can happen for almost any reason such as dust on the rollers, debris from a previous job blocking the paper feed, the wrong type of paper or size being used, or the rollers that feed the paper are worn.

  9. How do I remove a paper jam?
  10. If you have a paper jam, gently pull the jammed paper out in the direction of the paper path. Do not pull in the opposite direction because the rollers may only go in one direction, if you force the rollers in the wrong direction can damage the printer.
    It might be necessary to turn off the printer and cancel any remaining print jobs.
    If the paper tears, open the front and/or back cover and remove the pieces of paper. Nothing should be left behind. If the paper will not pull out easily, do not force it.
    If you have removed all the visible paper but the paper jam error remains, the printer may need to be repaired. Contact the manufacturer’s customer support center.
    Be careful when pulling the paper out of a laser printer because it can get hot. Open the cover where the paper jam is located and carefully remove all the paper in the printer.

    If are having frequent paper jams,

    • Don’t overload the paper tray. Overloading the paper tray can cause paper jams
    • Check minimum/maximum paper weight that your printer can handle. Paper that is too thick or too think can cause paper jams.
    • If you are still having frequent paper jams, check the manual for directions on how to adjust the rollers or any other part that may be causing paper jams
  11. My printer will not feed paper. What do I do?
  12. If there is paper loaded in the printer, check to see if the “paper out light” is on. If the light is on and the paper is loaded in correctly, try fanning it out to separate all the pages before reloading the paper.

    If the light isn’t on, the printer does not sense the loaded sheets of paper. Check to make sure the paper is loaded correctly and the paper guides are connected. Press the load/eject button to try loading a sheet of paper. If the problem persists, contact the printer’s customer support center.

  13. Why are my prints blurry and/or smeared?
  14. If your prints are blurry, your printer might not be the problem. The paper you are using can be damp due to humidity, or you are loading the paper on the wrong side. Most papers usually have a printable side (the brighter or shiner side).

    If the paper is loaded correctly, try using a different paper setting. You can be using too much ink for the paper.

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How to Buy Photo Paper

Every printer, camera, and office supply store seems to have their own line of photo paper. With names like High Gloss, Premium Glossy, and Ultra Premium, it can make it difficult to choose which paper is best. But when shopping for photo paper, don’t go by names alone, because you might not know what you are really getting.

Just like inkjet and laser papers, photo paper has specific paper traits that make each different. Knowing thses traits makes it a little easier to choose the paper that works best for you and your printer.

Weight
Weight is not measured by the sheet but by the weight of a package. Manufacturers will label weight differently, either by the pound or by grams per square meter (g/m2).

Shop for a heavier paper if you want your photographs to have the same feel as what is used at a professional photo lab. If you are printing photographs to be placed in albums or frames, a lighter paper will work just fine.

On average, you will find most photo paper will be between 24-71 lbs.

Brightness
The brightness level will tell you how white a sheet of paper is. The brightness levels of photo paper usually begin in the high 90s.
Using brighter paper will give your prints brighter colors but it’s not the only factor to consider when printing. The colors you are using and the paper finish will determine how the final print will look. Light colors, for example, will look washed out on brighter paper. Your best bet will be to compare several brightness levels before you commit to one. Your eyes will be the best judge on what will work for you and your printing needs.

Opacity
Opacity is measured by how much light will pass through the paper. Normally the higher the opacity level the less chance of the ink bleeding through to the other side of the page. Photo papers have a higher opacity than standard paper because printers will use more ink when printing photographs.

Finish
Paper finish can be categorized as either coated or uncoated. The surface of coated paper is treated with a special coating that can be matte, glossy, dull, etc. Printing on coated papers will increase the print quality, especially with colors. Colors printed on coated paper tend to be more vibrant and “pop” from a page.

Uncoated papers have not been treated with any kind of coating but you will find a variety of uncoated finishes (vellum, antique, canvas).

Photo Paper Finishes

  • Gloss:
  • The glossy coating will give your printed photographs the same look and feel as those from a professional photo lab. Be careful when handling glossy photo paper because the coating makes it more susceptible to finger prints and dust. The coating keeps the paper from absorbing ink so your photographs will dry slowly.

    Depending on the amount of shine, glossy paper can be described as high gloss, soft gloss, or semi-gloss.

  • Matte:
  • Matte paper has a smooth/velvet finish. Pictures printed on a matte finish appear softer with rich textures but won’t have the same feel as a photo lab photo. Matte photo paper is thicker, which often makes it printable on both sides.

Summary
When printing photographs at home you want to be using the right ink and paper to get photo lab quality. When shopping for photo paper, try several brands and test each out for yourself. Each printer works differently so to find the right paper print several samples.

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Inkjet Options

Are you in the market for printer ink, but aren’t sure what to buy? With all the third party manufacturers and vendors out there, it can be confusing trying to figure out exactly what you need. There are a lot of options to choose from, and knowing the basic differences between cartridges will help you make the best decision.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Ink Cartridges

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or name brand ink cartridges are made by the printer manufacturers themselves. Since they are sold by the manufacturer, these cartridges are normally the most expensive type. Oftentimes when you purchase a printer, you may pay more for a replacement cartridge then the printer itself.

Compatible Ink Cartridges

Compatible ink cartridges are created like the name brand cartridges but are made by third party manufacturers. These cartridges are sold at a discount but are not cheap inks. They are created to match the OEM specifications. Compatible cartridges can offer the same print quality as the name brands and have the same standards. These cartridges are completely reliable but look for a supplier that guarantees their products. The process and quality varies with each third-party manufacturer.

Remanufactured Ink Cartridges

Remanufactured cartridges are recycled name brand cartridges. The cartridges have already been used once and sent to a remanufacturing company. There the cartridges are cleaned, repaired with some new parts, professionally refilled, and tested for quality. Like compatibles, you should look for a vendor that guarantees their products because the process and quality can vary.

Refill Kits

Refill Kits are do-it-yourself kits that include everything needed to refill an inkjet or toner cartridge. Each kit is created for specific printer models with ink formulated to match OEM quality.

The printer ink market is massive, and it can be very confusing to new buyers who are looking for a deal. But knowing the facts can help you make an informed decision.

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More Holiday Gift Ideas

This holiday season brings a plethora of cool tech items that make excellent gifts.  But what about the printers (people who like printing, not actual printing devices) in your family?  Well, there are plenty of gifts out there this season for the print connoisseur as well.  We’ll run through a few of the coolest.

Mimo iMo Foto Frame Printer

iMo Foto Frame Printer iMo Foto Frame Printer

Digital photo frames are popular again this year.  They make excellent presents, as they satisfy both the need for technology and home décor in one swoop.  But this frame’s different.  The standalone device (no computer necessary) displays .jpeg files (up to 16MP) on a 8” LCD, can store other data up to 1 GB, and has memory card slots for additional viewing options.  Big deal, right?  Well, should you see a photo pop up on the slideshow that you like, you can print a 4×6 of it instantly.  The iMo Foto Frame contains an internal printer that prints 300dpi photo prints at the push of a button.  The Frame retails for $229.

Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II

PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II

The name alone sounds intriguing.  This is one of a number of affordable wide format printers available from several companies this season.  The Pro9k prints 13×19 inch formats in vibrant color, and is a great gift for the scrapbookers in your family, or anyone with an artistic side.  The printer runs on 8 separate dye ink cartridges, producing professional print outs that pop.  The dye inks are optimal for photo printing and will last for decades.  This printer has received rave reviews and its starting $380 price tag is actually quite competitive for the features it boasts.

Ink

The most expensive aspect of printing is restocking on costly inks.  A set of inkjet cartridges is a great gift for a loved one who enjoys printing.  Many companies offer bundle kits at decent prices.

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Step-by-step Computer Tips


Using Our Holiday Card Template
Today, we?ll go through the steps of downloading and customizing our holiday card template.

Click for Instructions on Using Our Holiday Card Template (Word 03 format)
Click for Instructions on Using Our Holiday Card Template (Pdf format)

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Fun Project

Project
HOLIDAY CARD
It’s time to get your holiday cards ready to mail.  We’ve created a card template for you.  All you need to do is insert your favorite photo, customize the wording, and print. We’ve even created coordinating return address labels.

If you’d like step-by-step instructions on preparing and printing your card, see our tip below.
Click here for Holiday Card template FRONT (Word 03 document)
Click here for Holiday Card template BACK (Word 03 document)
Click here for coordinating return address labels (Word 03 document)

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2 Great Holiday Printers That Are Winners

Are you thinking about buying yourself a printer this holiday season, or getting one as a gift?  You might consider 2 models which won spots on PC World’s top 100 list this year:  the Lexmark C734dn Color Laser Printer and HP Officejet 6500 Wireless Inkjet Multi-function printer.  Each year, PC World magazine looks at technological products and services, evaluating each one on its “design, functionality, performance, and impact”.  These evaluations are based on quality alone, so price is not a consideration when determining the results.
The Lexmark C734dn (Priced at $899) ranked #72 this year, and is a great color laser printer with lots to love.  It prints monochromatic text at a rate just under 30ppm, and is extremely easy to use.  PC World also touted its low cost of toner and it’s ability to print double-sided documents and banners as benefits.  The printer does have it’s low points however; which include occasion oversaturation of colors and an awkward toner design.  Overall, though, the Lexmark C734dn is a great printer, especially for small offices.
The HP Officejet 6500 Wireless Inkjet Multi-function Printer retails for $199 and ranked #44 on PC World’s list.  The Officejet showed considerable speed, though PC World reports that it didn’t quite make the 32ppm it promises.  Additionally, the Officejet 6500 was praised for it’s excellent photo printing and its use of affordable high-yield ink cartridges.  PC World did find, however, that scanning speeds were less than optimal and occasionally found discoloration in some photos.  But this is still a great, well-rounded printer for use in the home or office.
There are literally tons of printers to choose from out there this holiday season.  These two have proven to be two of the better purchases you can make this year.  So consider these winners when you begin your holiday shopping.

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The PrintDreams Printbrush

You may remember that we posted this video a few months ago.  Well, we have some more information on the “worlds smallest printer”.

A UK company, PrintDreams, is currently preparing to release a new product called the PrintBrush. The handheld printer is said to be the smallest printing device in the world and can print full size formats (A4 or letter size). It’s roughly the size of a modern mobile phone and weighs about 12 ounces. The device uses Bluetooth technology to receive documents from a variety of mobile devices. Then, you simply wave your hand above the printable media and the PrintBrush gets to work, accounting for inconsistencies in your hand movement in the process.

According to their website, the PrintBrush will be superior to normal printers and other mobile printers for a variety of reasons. For example, the device will be able to print onto any media it can reach, meaning items like notebooks and other papers which couldn’t typically be fed through a normal printer. Additionally, PrintDreams claims their product runs silently, allowing for discrete use, and uses no messy cables. No word on printer ink yet, though.

The printer is an ideal product for people on the go. Students could use the PrintBrush to print documents and notes in between classes (or even in class). And the printer has lots of business applications. Imagine editing and printing a contract out for a client in the middle of a restaurant, or printing out notes for an important meeting in a cab on the way to work.

Some preliminary product specifications, according to the manufacturer:

Resolution: 600dpi monochrome

Print technology: inkjet and RMPT™ Full

Max. speed: 250mm/sec

Volume: Approx. 200cc

Weight: Approx. 250gm

Interfaces: USB 2.0, Bluetooth, IRda

Power supply: rechargable Li-Ion battery

PrintDreams says the PrintBrush will launch at the end of this year, or possible early next year. The preliminary retail price will be roughly $199 USD. Take look here.

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