Friday, February 09, 2007

Canon PIXMA MP830 Hack to enable direct to CD/DVD printing on printable media.

Ok, I just bought on of these babies refurbished for $199 at Fry's Electronics. I've used nearly every all in one printer on the market, and I can say, for my needs, this is the best one out there (well under say $600).

Oddly in the US this printer does not ship with a tray to print on CD or DVD printable media, but you can purchase a tray separately and enable the feature. I haven't been able to confirm this but it appears that it was disabled in this country because someone other than Canon holds a patent on that feature (which sounds silly to me... like holding a patent on printing on paper) and they would not license it to Canon.

You'll also have to remove the plastic door that was placed over the CD/DVD tray insert slot. Just open the printer, and snap it off by pulling or prying. This was easier than I expected and took only a few seconds. I only pulled it off with my hand (and fingernails.) No tools required.

Anyway, to switch it to UK (instead of US) mode and enable printing, follow these instructions:

1. Plug the printer in, but leave it powered off. If it is already on, turn it off.
2. Press and hold the Stop/Reset button.
3. While still holding the Stop/Reset button, press and hold the Power button.
4. Hold both of them down for 5 seconds, then release the Stop/Reset button, continuing to hold down the power button.
5. Press and release the Stop/Reset button 2 times.
6. Release the power button.

At this point the printer should power on, but it will enter a special service mode.

7. Wait until the green copy light on the control panel stops flashing. This takes about 30 seconds.
8. (Optional) If you wish, you can press the Stop/Reset button 1 time, then press the Power button, and a ROM page will print. It should indicate US region at the top.
9. Press the Stop/Reset button 5 times to enter the "Set Region Mode". Then press the Power button.
10. Press the Stop/Reset button 4 times for Europe/UK (3 times for the US if you wish to change it back later). Then press the Power button.
11. (Optional) If you wish, you can press the Stop/Reset button 1 time, then press the Power button, and a ROM page will print. It should indicate Euro region at the top.
12. Press the Power button 2 times to save the changes.

I purchased my CD/DVD tray Type D from here: annocjr on eBay

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Command Paths not working, and %SystemRoot% not resolving...and a fix

This happened to apply to my brand spanking new Dell Latitude D820, however, I believe it is a more general problem that can occur with Windows. I don't know what situations create the problem, but I did find a solution. Also searching the web for this problem reveals others have been troubled with it as well.

Ok, so I found simple "always there" commands weren't working, such as ping or ipconfig. When trying to launch ipconfig from the command line I would get: 'ipconfig' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file. (You can see it in the screenshot of my Command Prompt below.)

I did an echo %PATH% and observed that %SystemRoot% was not being evaluated. You can see from the screenshot below instead of showing "C:\WINDOWS" it was showing %SystemRoot% (I've highlighted them in red.) This is the state the computer shipped from Dell with a purchased copy of XP Pro installed so this situation is going to affect a LOT of users. Of course, maybe most Dell customers don't use the command line.

Scroll down to see the screenshot... argh these blogspot templates suck at handling wide images.

Here's a screenshot of the error, and the faulty path lookup in action.

So my immediate thought was that %SystemRoot% hadn't been setup in the Windows Environment Variables. However, bringing up the dialog showed me that it was:

Anyway, the solution is just to kick Windows XP into re-evaluating the %Path% variable. The entries were all there, but somehow Windows has cached an invalid lookup for it. The easiest way I believe to do this is to go into the environment variables. Just click edit, you don't even have to change anything, and then click OK.

Now your old command prompt if it is open won't be updated, but if you open a new one, everything should work as you expected.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

New Dell laptop error: Insert the Sonic Update Manager disk and click OK and the fix.

I've got a spanking new Dell Latitude D820. Of course, like all Dells, instead of shipping with a clean install of Windows, it has a lot of stuff pre-installed.

I supposed that's ok, considering, for example, the Roxio Sonic DVD Creator software wouldn't normally ship with Windows, and it's the only way I can burn DVDs with my new internal DVD burner.

However, Dell, doesn't apparently make sure all of their software is installed correctly. When I launch Roxio Creator Plus (by Sonic Solutions...who owns who here?) I was presented with the following dialogs:

Now this one wouldn't necessarily mean it's an error, as sometimes you see this dialog the first time you launch a newly installed application. However, things went downhill quickly:

Insert the Sonic Update Manager disk and click OK.

Hmm. So now it is asking me to install a CD that I don't have and most likely is a side effect of Dell's setup/installation procedure prior to shipping out the laptop. Attempting to continue at this point finally ends in failure with this message:

An installation package for the product Sonic Update Manager cannot be found. Try the installation again using a valid copy of the installation package 'UM.MSI'.

The message indicates that UM.MSI is the name of the installation package that Dell used to setup my laptop, which of course, I don't have. Worst, while the Roxio Creator software does launch and looks like it might function, canceling out of these software dialogs just brings up new ones. As long as the Roxio Creator software is open, an infinite loop of these pop up dialogs displays, making the software completely unusable.

Luckily the problem is known. It's actually a problem with the Update Manager component in the InstallShield software that Roxio used to package their product and Dell then used to install their product. A fix for the problem can be downloaded from the makers of InstallShield here.

Friday, February 02, 2007

So you got that new printer, that does borderless printing...but you can't find out how?

UPDATE May 2007 This doesn't seem to apply with the latest drivers for Intel Macs. It looks like for those Epson figured out how to get the features into a single printer, where they belong. Unfortunately they didn't release the update for PowerPC Macs, which ALSO means you can't printer share from an Intel Mac (with one of these Epsons) to a PowerPC Mac because the printer driver need to be the same version. Ugh!END UPDATE

In Mac OS X, possibly the most convoluted configuration issue is printers that handle different or abnormal page sizes.

I own an Epson 2200 and an R200 (actually my R200 just died, and I'll be throwing it out but that's beside the point.) Both of these printers support borderless printing (and another mode called "minimize margins") as well as roll paper printing. However, after installing the printers, and going through every option in the Page Setup and Print dialogs, it looks like those features are not available in Mac OS X 10.4.

Well those features are available, they just aren't enabled by default. Apparently Mac OS X handles printers in a way that doesn't make it easy to change things like roll paper additions or differing hardware margins in a single printer. You'd think that would be handled just fine in the paper settings from the Page Setup dialog, but it isn't. It's possible this shortcoming is actually Epson's fault for how they implemented support for these features in their drivers, but no matter who is to blame, the configuration isn't obvious. You have to basically setup a different printer on the computer for each of these features that affects the paper margins and paths. So for example, instead of just having the R200 listed as an available printer, you'll have the R200 and the R200 "borderless" and the R200 "Roll Paper" etc. Of course, they are all the same printer, but to your Mac they all look like different printers with different capabilities and will be listed as different printers in your print dialog.

To get access to all these wonderful features, just follow these easy instructions:

You need to open the Printer Browser window. There are two ways to get to the Printer Browser:
Go under the Utilities folder under Applications and launch the Printer Setup Utility. Click the Add printer icon.
Inside the Print & Fax control panel inside System Preferences, select the printing tab and click the + symbol to create a new printer.

Either one of those steps bring up the Printer Browser:

At this point, your current Epson printer should show up in the Printer Browser. Now click More Printers...

In the drop down dialog sheet that appears click on the pop up menu at the top and select "Epson USB" (or "Epson FireWire" if you are using a printer with a FireWire connection like the 2200.) It takes a while sometimes for these dialogs to update as they are scanning the USB busses as well as searching every known printer driver installed on your computer.

At that point your printer should appear with the different features listed in the Page Setup pop up menu. For example, if you now select your Epson 2200 printer, under the Page Setup menu, you should see an entry for your 2200 with borderless printing, another entry for roll printing, etc.

Add any of the ones you want to have available or all of them. Then when printing, you have to choose which printer to use based on what features you want (they will all appear in your printer dialog as separate printers, and you can even designate one of them to be your default printer.) Oh and make sure you select them in both your Page Setup dialogs as well as your Print dialogs if you need features (such as special paper sizes) available. The Page Setup dialog will let you choose the larger paper types supported by roll printing, etc.

So there you go, now you can take full advantage of your expanded printer capabilities.