Sunday, March 8, 2009

How to buy a printer

I saw an interesting post at 37signals complaining about how hard it is to decide which All-in-one printer to buy.

The process is actually about as simple as anything in computers, but like most things in technology you need to use filters.

For example, if you're going to be buying a new printer and you run Linux on your desktop, it's a safe bet to throw a dart on a list of HP All-in-one printers, go to the OpenPrinting database and see how well the printer is supported.

In any event, the steps below should help you to find the right printer for you regardless of the OS you run.

1. Identify what you want to use it for.

- Will you be scanning many pages at the same time regularly? (you need an automatic sheet feeder)
- Do you care about color quality? (besides looking at color dpi you'll want to search customer reviews for "quality")
- Does speed matter to you? (If you will never print out more than 4 pages at a time and the printer is just for you, likely no).
- Will you be printing out photos on a regular basis? (a photo printer might be a better bet than an All-in-one printer, though my old HP PSC 1610 All-in-one prints photos remarkably well)

2. Go to You don't have to buy it from Newegg, but their site tends to make finding what you need much easier than other online stores.

From there go into Computer Hardware | Printers and Faxes | Select Inject or Laser Printers | Select Advanced Search if you're not already there | Select what kind of printer you want under recommended use (All-in-one in this case). Filter by Best Rating if you aren't already there.

3. Look at the top 10 recommendations that aren't made by Brother or Lexmark, see which ones meet what you're looking for in terms of quality and speed. You will be left with around 5 in most cases.

4. See which printers have drivers for your OS. Search for forum and blog posts of people complaining about installing or using the drivers (For example, for an HP F4280 search Google for "HP F4280 all-in-one linux problem". Search the customer reviews on Newegg for the OS you run. Ignore any printer that has poor support for your OS.

5. Buy the remaining printer that fits your budget.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Great color scheme for Konsole (Tango Console)

I'm currently using the color scheme Tango Console with Courier New bold 9pt in Konsole on KDE 4. You can see a couple screen shots of how it looks below.

Groups that your user needs to be a member of in Arch Linux

In the weekend that I've been playing with Arch Linux on my laptop I've found that I needed to add my main user account to the groups below:
[scyon@blackbird ~]$ grep scyon /etc/group | cut -d: -f1

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Getting Tor, Privoxy and Torbutton working on Ubuntu

This was tested on my laptop running Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron).

1. From a terminal run
sudo apt-get install tor privoxy

2. Edit /etc/privoxy/config
3. Add the line (including the period at the end):
forward-socks4a / localhost:9050 .

4. Comment out the line:
logfile logfile

5. Restart Privoxy:
sudo /etc/init.d/privoxy restart

6. Install the Firefox torbutton extension.

Right clicking the torbutton and selecting Preferences | Proxy Settings | Test settings should work out of the box now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The best thing I've read all day

Interoperability, transparency, extensibility, and storage or transaction economy: these are the important themes in designing file formats and application protocols. Interoperability and transparency demand that we focus such designs on clean data representations, rather than putting convenience of implementation or highest possible performance first.

From The Art of Unix Programming.

Free (as in beer) PDF to Word Conversion

Normally I try to avoid talking about my job here (this is my personal blog and nothing on it is attributable to my employer) but I want to make an exception in this case.

The company I work for (Solid Documents) just launched a free PDF to Word conversion service.

Usually when I'm at home I have to fire up a VM running Windows (and Solid Converter PDF) to convert a file (I typically convert to RTF as our software doesn't require MS Office for that conversion), but now I don't have to (and neither do you). Nice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Stupid (but useful) one liner for Visually Monitoring Free Disk Space

I'm sure there is a better way of doing this (or a prebuilt tool that does) but I felt like doing some oldschool shell scripting while I update my local Ubuntu mirror for Intrepid Ibex.

One liner:
while true; do clear; date; df -ah; sleep 10; done

The output looks like:
Wed Nov 12 20:10:43 PST 2008
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda1 72G 49G 20G 71% /
tmpfs 506M 0 506M 0% /lib/init/rw
proc 0 0 0 - /proc
sysfs 0 0 0 - /sys
procbususb 0 0 0 - /proc/bus/usb
udev 10M 44K 10M 1% /dev
tmpfs 506M 0 506M 0% /dev/shm
devpts 0 0 0 - /dev/pts
/dev/hdb1 459G 59G 377G 14% /var/spool/apt-mirror