Have Xfinity? Make Sure You’re Protected

Comcast is now rolling out their Xfinity Wifi Hotspots — a feature that turns home users’ own Comcast-supplied routers into public hotspots.  The process has already started in the Midwest and East Coast features, but other regions are sure to follow shortly.

PCWorld has an article detailing the service and what you can do to turn it off, if you have an affected router.  If you have Comcast internet, I highly recommend giving it a read since Comcast is not notifying customers of the changes being made in their customer’s devices.

If you are a local Comcast customer in the Shreveport-Bossier area, and would like help setting up your own 3rd-party router, don’t hesitate to give me a call, text, or email, or post a comment.

 

When Your Wireless Printer Won’t Finish a Print Job

Recently, my parents’ printer ran out of ink.  When I starting shopping around for new cartridges, I found out that just going out and buying them a new printer would be cheaper (surprise, surprise).  We’re not exactly swimming in cash, so we visited Office Depot and found an Epson Expression Home XP-410 for around $70.  It’s a solid little printer with fairly cheap ink cartridges.  You can refill the black and all of the colors from a pack that sells for about $50 dollars.  More importantly, for my purposes, it fully supports wireless networks and can be installed without cables.

It wasn’t long before my dad started trying to print multiple-page documents off it, and we discovered that the printer was having problems with stopping right in the middle of a print job.  What was worse is that there were no warnings or errors given — it just simply stopped printing.

If you’ve got a printer that will stop right in the middle of a page as if it’s finished printing, it can become very frustrating to get anything done.  Thankfully, there is a very simple (and quick) fix.

 

Fixing That Pesky Printer

1.  Find your “Devices & Printers” window.  On Windows 8, you can usually just type ‘printers’ at your start screen and it will find it for you, under the Settings tile.  For Windows 7 and Vista users, you will find this option in the Control Panel.

2.  Right click on your printer.  In the options menu that pops up, you’re going to want to select “Printer Properties” as shown in the image below.

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3.  Find the Advanced tab in the top of the window that pops up.

4.  You should see some round tick boxes in the middle of the window.  Make certain that “Start printing after last page is spooled” is selected and click Save.

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You should know be able to print large documents without the printer stopping.  You may notice that your printer will take several more seconds to begin a print job than before, especially for larger documents, but this is normal.

 

Why This Works

It seems that many printers install with the option “Start printing immediately” set by default.  This essentially tells the printer to start the moment it starts getting data from the spooler on your computer, and not wait for the rest of the document to show up.  It takes a little time for a large, multiple-page document to completely spool, and your computer usually sends a such a document in easy-to-handle smaller chunks.

The problem starts when the printer finishes with the first chunk and looks for the next one, before the spooler actually gets finished with it.  If the printer doesn’t have the next chunk of the document to print, it just quits.  This can be caused by several things, such as having a slow network, a slow computer, or a slow, cheap printer (ahem).  Personally, I noticed that this was particularly a problem when I was printing from computers that were also wireless or had a poor connection.

By telling the printer to only start after the last page is spooled, you are making it wait for the spooler to finish with the entire document — and that’s why it takes several more seconds for a job to actually start.

Be sure to comment and let me know if you’ve found this useful, or are having more difficult issues with your printer!

Seen the new Amazon Fire?

They have e-readers, tablets, and media players — and now they’ve got a smart phone.

Amazon is releasing their new Fire Phone on July 25th, but is already taking pre-orders on their site.  The phone comes in two storage sizes — a 32GB version for $199 and a 64GB version for $299 — and requires a new AT&T contract.  To sweeten the deal, they’re also offering an entire year free of their Amazon Prime service, which is currently valued at $99.  If you care about that sort of thing, it makes their smartphone offering a cheap alternative to the flagship iPhone 5S and Galaxy S5.

I went ahead and ordered one for myself.  For the past couple of months, I’ve been agonizing over purchasing the new Galaxy S5.  As an avid fan of Amazon — and as someone who uses the crap out of their Prime service — I’ve decided to give their phone a try instead.

The hardware in the phone is pretty high-end, providing a good rationale for the phone’s price tag.  It uses a 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU, which is pretty comparable to the Galaxy S5’s own CPU, and 2GB of RAM, and despite being decked out in camera lenses and sensors, it has an impressive 22-hour talk-time (285 hours on standby) battery life.  I don’t know about you, but I personally long for the days when I didn’t have to worry about charging my phone everywhere I went.

Amazon-Fire-Phone

The buzz about the new Fire isn’t all good, however.  If you look around online, many people are predicting that the phone will flop, if not outright hurt Amazon’s sales.  The OS isn’t anything particularly spectacular, flashy 3D effects and fast rendering aside, and their app market is going to be extremely small compared to Apple’s or Google’s.  While the Fire is based on Android, it’s introduced a unique interface that will not be familiar to old smartphone users and may pose a new challenge to developers and new adopters alike.

There, of course, is also the risk (or benefit?) of Amazon Fire changing the way retail works, for better or for worse.  The company has already gotten in trouble once for a price-fixing scheme on their books, facilitated by the fact that their original Kindle practically dug the graves of traditional book retailers.  The Fire Phone will let you scan any kind of item in your house or out on the street and get options on how to purchase that item through their store — as if it wasn’t bad enough to go around scanning bar codes in BestBuy.

Come July 25th, I look forward to providing a proper review of the phone and how it handles.