From PC Tips

Installing an HP LaserJet 1012 printer in Windows Vista

Windows Vista LogoUPDATE 1-22-09: Apparently HP has added the drivers for 32 and 64 bit Vista! See comments section for more details. If you’ve beeen to HP’s site looking for a Vista driver for your LaserJet 1012, you probably noticed there wasn’t one. If you’re like me, you downloaded the XP driver and hoped for the best, but the install crashed. If you’re not ready to trash your trusty old printer, here’s what you can do:

  1. If you don’t already have it, download the XP driver from ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/softlib/software8/COL4313/lj-14154-2/lj1010serieshb-en.exe
  2. Remove any reference to the failed HP LaserJet 1012 install in the Printers menu. Make sure the printer is NOT connected to the computer.
  3. Choose “Add Printer” and proceed to add a local printer on LPT1. Select “Have Disk” when prompted to and navigate to the folder into which you extracted the drivers. You should have a choice of three drivers: LaserJet 1012, 1015, and 1018. Select the 1015 drivers and finish up the install.
  4. Now comes the fun. Plug the printer in, and Vista will immediately go out and try to install an HP 1012 printer. It will probably fail to install if you haven’t tried before, or just show up (but not work) if you’ve already plugged it in before.
  5. Once Vista is done wasting your time, right-click on the HP LaserJet 1012 icon in the Printers menu, and choose Properties.
  6. Click the Advanced tab and look for the Driver pull-down menu. It should list the non-working HP LaserJet 1012 driver, so pull it down and pick the HP LaserJet 1015 driver (that’s why we installed the non-existent printer–to get that option in the pull-down list).
  7. Click Apply and close the dialog. The printer will now be named something like HP LaserJet 1015 (Copy 1). Rename it whatever you want and delete the fake HP LaserJet 1015. Right-click on the real printer and choose Properties, then Print Test Page to make sure it all works.

NB: If you ever see an error about the Print Spooler or don’t see any printers listed in the Printers menu, click the Start button and type ‘services.msc’ (without the quotes) into the bar and hit Enter. That will bring up the Windows services list, and you can restart or start the Print Spooler service.

AVG 8.0’s new LinkChecker feature is pretty nifty

Since Grisoft, the company that makes the popular free anti-virus software AVG, stopped supporting updates for version 7 of their software, I made the plunge and downloaded the upgrade to version 8 a few days ago. I hadn’t really noticed any differences in the new version (one of the best things about AVG is that you never really notice it’s there, unless it’s updating), but today I started wondering about what I initially thought was a new feature in Google: some weird green stars that appeared next to my search results:
Google Search - fluffy bunnies
After a while, I got curious and moused-over one of them. Turns out they’re a feature of AVG’s software, not Google’s site, called LinkChecker. It basically analyzes sites for potential mal- or spy-ware content, then rates them as either a red X, yellow !, or green star. Since I’d only seen green stars so far, I did a quick search for ‘warez,’ which is guaranteed to get you crap every time. Sure enough, the picture was a little different:
Google Search - warez
AVG LinkChecker - Risky SiteI’m not really sure about the diagnosis of some of the sites as ‘Risky’–they seemed pretty much to be categorized as such merely because they were ‘Cracks’ sites–but then again, I kind of had the same assumption based on my choice of search term. Most importantly, I haven’t noticed any performance change in Firefox. If the page doesn’t load quickly enough, a throbber simply takes the place of a rating until it can be returned. You can click through to any page without having to wait. All in all, a pretty nice feature.

Patch for Treo 700w/wx call dropping audio problem

If you own a Treo 700w or 700wx, you’ve probably noticed an annoying tendency of the phone to drop calls when either another caller rings in or a voicemail notification arrives. Turns out this is a known issue with those models of Treos, and Palm as a patch for it.

It’s actually very simple to apply the patch, and if you’re a Verizon Wireless customer you can download it OTA directly from your phone. URL for the mobile page is http://www.palm.com/us/support/mobile/downloads/audio_patch_vzn.html, and you can also get to the page by choosing ‘Support’ on the Palm homepage on your Treo (assuming you haven’t set it to your own homepage).

I’ve had my phone patched for about 3 days now, and I haven’t lost a call since. I’ve had multiple people ring in while I’ve been on the phone, and although I haven’t seen a voicemail come in simultaneously with a call, that’s probably because having a second caller ring in no longer drops both calls. I still can’t pretend I like my Treo, or that I think it’s well-designed or reliable, but I have to admit this really makes it about 5 times less annoying to deal with on a daily basis.

Google Desktop breaks Java for Banner 7

Java LogoWe recently had a situation come up at work where a few of our users who do a lot of work in Banner found that they could no longer launch the app. Instead of the login screen, they were getting a blank window in Internet Explorer. We use Java 1.5.0.12 to run Banner 7, and the VM itself seemed to launch fine, but then nothing happened. The problem only started after we upgraded everyone from Java JRE 1.5.0.11 to 12 last week, so we started by assuming the new version of Java was conflicting with something.

An analysis of common programs yielded Google Desktop as a common thread, so we tried uninstalling that. Immediately, Java worked great and Banner loaded immediately. A Google search for ‘java 1.5.0.12 crashes google desktop’ showed that the problem is not limited to Banner only. In all instances we’ve had of the problem, a quick removal of the Google Desktop (including all settings and indexes) has fixed everything.

As a side note, the irony factor on this one is pretty significant. After all, most of the users who had the Google Desktop had gotten it as a result of the Java Update Scheduler, which had offered them 1.6 (the actual latest version of Java) and had installed (you guessed it) Google Desktop with the Java update as a default option. Several of our users wrote angry comments in the field Google provided with their uninstaller, and I can’t say I blame them. Also, it’s another example of why IT needs to keep tabs on and limit the proliferation of user-installed software.

1.5.0.12, 1.6.3, banner, banner 7, banner crash, google, google desktop, java, java crash, jre

High-end power supply repair from ACS Industrial

The following is a sponsored review of power supply repair services offered by ACS Industrial.

Ok, first off, we’re not talking about that $30 piece of junk in your computer here, which you probably should never send out to repair, because it would cost more in shipping than would a brand new one. ACS Industrial repairs really expensive, high-end power supplies–the kind that have computers in them, rather than the other way around.

In perusing the ACS site, a few nice things caught my eye. One is that you can send the power supply in for a free evaluation to determine the repair cost. This is really nice when you’ve got a bottom line to worry about, and having to replace an expensive, now toasted, part with another brand-new one and pay the bill for having the dead one diagnosed as such. Of course, you’ll still risk losing the cost of shipping for the privilege of finding out if your equipment will cost $50 or $5,000 to repair, but that’s a much easier cost to swallow than having to pay an evaluation fee.

Additionally, ACS will warranty the work they do for a certain amount of time, which can be determined at the time of the repair quote. This is good news once again for people trying to establish whether or not it would be worth repairing a piece of equipment, since a $500 repair job that results in only another week of life is a waste of money, but a warranty can be factored into cost benefit analyses. All in all, it seems that ACS has all the bases covered in terms of customer service and their free evaluation offer makes the decision to send a broken power supply in for a quote much easier.

high voltage, low voltage, switching, power supply, repair

Iceberg On Demand: create custom applications without code

The following is a sponsored review of Iceberg On Demand, a web-based platform for creating individualized applications without advanced coding knowledge.

Iceberg On Demand markets itself as a tool for non-technical computer users to create applications for a almost any need, with no actual coding involved. According to the site’s main page, this includes things like workflow management, relational databases, and other common business application needs. In fact, Iceberg On Demand will come with several bundled ‘free applications‘ that are all common apps in the service and sales industries. Specifically, Iceberg will be including a human resources app, advanced CRM, project management, rostering, knowledge base, recruitment manager, booking engine, timesheet and billing, and a bug tracking app. All of this sounds pretty nifty, so I definitely would like to see a demo.

And there’s the catch. The most you can do with Iceberg right now, besides watch a short video on the site’s front page, is sign up for the upcoming beta by submitting your email address. I think this software sounds like it could be pretty impressive, and I’m excited to try it out when it becomes available, but it’s difficult to do an actual review of how it works until I can try it. In the meantime, I’m interested in Iceberg On Demand’s potential, but I’ll have to wait for the actual product launch to see how it all pans out.

custom app, application, crm, project management, timesheet, billing, bug tracking, iceberg, iceberg on demand

Make CSV files do whatever you want, really fast

CommaThe following is a sponsored review of software that helps you work with large CSV files for data transfer and migration.

If you work in IT, you’ve probably had to deal with csv files at one time or another. The idea of a .csv file is, of course, that it is simply data separated by commas, with a carriage return indicating the end of a particular table entry and the beginning of the next. The site has a couple of versions of the CSV reader available for download, one written in Java and one in .NET. I went with the .NET version first, since it seemed to be a demo of the more full-featured downloadable version.

Ok, the first thing I figured out that wasn’t immediately obvious to me (although it does clearly say on the site that it’s a .NET class) was that I needed Visual Studio installed. Since my hard drive recently died, I don’t really have any of my old software on my computer, so I guess I now have the impetus needed to spend an hour watching Visual Studio re-install.

While I was waiting on the install, I perused the pages on the CSV Reader site to learn more about the product. What impressed me off the bat was how flexible the class seems to be–you can use it to parse records and insert them for web viewing, into an SQL database, etc. Also, the speed is impressive, as the site states “[r]ough benchmarks on a 2 Ghz processor, parsing common comma separated columns is 20 MB, or 390,000 rows with 5 columns each, almost 2,000,000 cells total, of data parsing per second.” Now, this might not be something everyone needs, but if you’ve ever used Excel to its breaking point (admittedly much higher in 2007 than in 2003) you’ll be glad you have the extra speed and ability to parse huge data files.

Also noted from the CSV Reader site is the fact that it removes the need to use Excel as an intermediary when working with .csv files. In fact, CSV Reader can work with .xls (Excel’s native format) and the ever-popular .xml format directly, alleviating the need for slower, GUI-heavy programs to do the heavy crunching work.

One of the things that I really liked about CSV Reader was the demo sample projects included with the demo, as well as the code samples available on the site itself. Also, the pricing is pretty good, starting at $150 (if you just need to use the class in-house to convert data) all the way up to royalty-free distribution rights along with the C# source code for a mere $750. Not bad pricing, considering that, once again, this is clearly targeted at DBAs and others with absolutely huge data streams that they need to deal with, not the home user with a knitting club membership database that needs to be moved from Excel to SQL.

sql, xls, csv, csv reader, xml, parse csv, parse xml, parse xls, .net, .net class, excel, csv files

Are you a computer security warlock?

Are you an Internet Security Wizard?
Are You an Internet
Security Wizard?

I am. The proof is to the left of this text. The latest sponsored review to come my way was for an online Security Quiz that purports to test your knowledge of computer security-related terminology and practice.

The quiz itself is pretty tough, both because it asks a variety of decent questions on things like firewalls and phishing, and because it features questions phrased like “Which of the following is NOT…” with a ‘None of the above’ answer choice (does that mean ‘all of the above’ ARE?). There are also quite a few spelling and grammar errors in the questions, which added to the ambiguity factor.

There was no area of knowledge on the quiz that I, as a support technician at a university, felt that I didn’t know, but at the end, I apparently got a 19 out of 30 (hence the Warlock classification). I’m not blaming the questions entirely, but I will say some of them were very confusing in the way they were posed.

Anyway, the test is obviously part of a larger website, into which you are funnelled once you complete the quiz, if you choose to click a link to sign up for Agnitum’s newsletter. Agnitum’s main product is the Outpost Security Suite, which purports to be a one-stop-shop for all your anti-spyware, -malware, and -virus needs. Judging by some of the leading questions in the security quiz (“What makes most virus software slow down your computer?” type questions), the folks at Agnitum believe they have a lighter-weight and better PC protection suite than most of the big names out there right now. The software starts at $49.95 for a single-user home license, and they offer enterprise and business pricing, in addition to some family packs and other options for home users.

antivirus, anti virus, malware, spyware, agnitum, outpost security, security quiz, wizard

ISO Recorder: it’s better than sliced bread, and free

Every once in a while, a piece of software arrives into the world that is well-written, simple-to-use, and efficient. Now, software that’s 1, or even 2 of those things, appears all the time, but hitting the trifecta is a differnet matter.

ISO Recorder is one of those rare pieces of software. Designed by Alex Feinman, the program (it’s actually just a .dll) does one thing, and one thing well. After you install it, any iso image has the default option to burn it to disk (in the Vista version, this includes DVD images). The install of the software itself is nearly instant, on account of its small file size. There’s no annoying start menu crap or desktop shortcuts to deal with–just a nicely associated .dll ready to burn images.

I needed to burn two images yesterday, one an ISO of the MSDN version of XP, and the other a BartPE boot CD. The MSDN ISO is 600MB, so when the status bar on ISO Recorder started moving fluidly from 0% to 100%, completing in less than a minute, I knew something was wrong, especially since the blank disk I’d used had clearly seen some abuse. Not the case. I popped the disk back in, and the Windows install screen came up. I then used the disk with PE Builder, which ripped the disk cleanly twice in a row. The image created with Bart PE (around 160MB) burned in seconds.

I love ISO Recorder. And it’s free, so give Alex some support and donate through the PayPal link on his pages.

burn iso, vista iso, iso, burn iso vista, iso recorder, isorecorder, burn dvd iso, free software

WildCharger wireless charger on pre-order soon?

WildCharger

A while back I blogged about a recent piece of research in which scientists wirelessly charged a device, Tesla-coil style, from a distance of several feet away. In a more plebian, yet infinitely more immediately useful, development, WildCharge’s WildCharger charging pad is almost ready for pre-order, according to engadget.

Many of the engadget faithful are not impressed with the new charging pad, and as one user (and my father) pointed out, many power toothbrushes also charge wirelessly, allowing you to simply drop the brush onto the base station. Additionally, many are griping because the WildCharger will apparently require adapters for the devices it charges. But for those who hate tangled power cords, or who have burned through many chargers because of the cheaply made connectors which die after repeated plugging and unplugging, this charger will no doubt be a welcome innovation.

wildcharge, wildcharger, wireless charger, wireless charging, charger, wireless cell phone charger