Gadgets

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Here’s a quick one about yet one more annoying default setting.  When I go mountain biking I’m using a Garmin Edge 705 to record my statistics.  After every trip I upload my track to Garmin Connect.  One of my favorite statistics there was Average Moving Speed.  I typed “was” on purpose.  It’s no longer there!

Apparently they removed it because the community was confused about it, hmm.  Now how can I get that back?

This device is a GPS, so technically it’s able to detect if you’re moving and how fast.  It can also stop/start recording automatically.  And here it comes: by default it doesn’t do that!

Now, to activate the auto pause, it would seem logical that you’d need to change a setting in the Settings menu, right?  Well, wrong!  The setting is located in the Training menu!  Inside that menu, you need Auto Pause/Lap and there you’ve got the Auto Timer Pause setting which you can change to Off to When Stopped or Custom Speed.

Tomorrow I’ll try my first track with Custom Speed set to 4 km/h!  This way I hope I avoid that it records while stopped for refueling (read: sports drink and cookies, fruit, not gas or electricity).

Need more info?  Try this video then:

Edge 705 Auto Pause–Auto Lap

Have fun!

Valentino.

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My Problem

Several years ago I decided to replace my regular printer with an all-in-one network device.  As it was a network device, I could put it in my office and use it from any PC at home.  Great stuff.  Furthermore I could scan some papers, and even make copies without touching a PC.  That device was a HP Photosmart 3210 All-in-One.

HP Photosmart 3210 All-in-One: not the smartest on the block I was fairly happy with it (except for a few issues with the accompanying software).  But some months ago the device decided to become stubborn.  It started moaning about ink cartridges being outdated.  And it refused printing!  If there’s one thing that I can’t allow my devices to do, that is to have them refuse performing their main function!

According to HP, this has been built in to protect the printing system and ensure print quality.  If the device would still have been under warranty, I could live with that (although it’s really on the limit – I am the owner of the device so I decide how to use it, right??).  But the warranty is gone for many years, I don’t care about possibly damaging the printer or the quality of the printouts.  I just want to get it to print!

Further according to HP, you can override the warning.  Except, what’s written on that webpage doesn’t seem to reflect reality.  I could not find any way to get it to ignore that message, except for hacking the hardware by erasing its memory through removal of the CMOS battery.  Which I didn’t try.  In fact, not only could I not print anymore, the thing was totally useless as it even refused to scan!

So HP, well done, you’ve lost one more customer.  How smart is that Photosmart now, huh?

The New Device

Epson Stylus SX510W: outsmarting the Photosmart The requirements for the new device were:

  • network device
  • all-in-one with possibility to copy without a PC
  • colors all in separated cartridges

My HP had five colors plus black.  After some review reading, I decided that the additional two colors are not worth the extra cash.  So that was one requirement less, three colors plus black is sufficient for my needs.

So a couple of months ago, I have replaced the HP with an Epson Stylus SX510W.  The installation was simple.  Hook it up to the network, install the software, and test.  Well, a step to install the cartridges was also needed somewhere before the test phase.

One small remark about the printer’s general use: it generates quite some noise while printing.  In my case that’s not an issue, the device is located in my office, not in the children’s bedroom.  But I can imagine that it might be a problem for some people.

It all worked perfectly until lately I had been having some printing issues.  When I printed something, on PC it looked all just as before.  But the printer wasn’t doing anything, it wasn’t printing.  As you can imagine, that is a fairly annoying problem because printing is the main reason that I’d bought it.

Today I have found the solution, so I’m happy to share it with you.

Investigating The Issue

I’ve got the printer hooked up to my router through a fixed cable.  So far so good.  I can see the printer in the list of devices, and I can even ping it!

So network is not a problem then?  Well, one would think so but apparently that’s a wrong assumption.  On my router I’m using dynamic DHCP.  And that’s the cause of the printing issue!  Because my router gave my printer a different IP address compared to when I first installed it, it cannot communicate anymore with the driver on my PC.  Ouch, and then to imagine that software quality was one of the reasons why I deprecated my HP device.  Hopefully this is the first and last issue that I encounter with this printer.

Short-term Fix (not recommended)

Now you’ll probably want to know how this can be fixed?  Well, the first step is to find out the new IP address of the printer.  One way is to log on to your router and look at the list of connected devices (make sure your printer is switched on when you do that).

Please note that my home PC is running Windows 7, so if you’re encountering the issue on a different OS, the next steps may differ.

The next steps involve changing the TCP/IP port on which the Print Server is connecting with the printer.  To start, open up the Devices and Printers control panel through the Start menu.

You should see your device appear in the list:

Epson SX510W Series highlighted in the list of devices

Then select the device and click the Print server properties button in the button bar above.  On the Ports tab of the Print Server Properties you should see the Epson printer appear in the list, with an IP address next to it.

Print Server Properties: EPSON SX510W Series standard TCP/IP Port

Select the item and click the Configure Port button.

Configure Standard TCP/IP Port Monitor

In the Configure Standard TCP/IP Port Monitor window, you will see the old IP address of your device.  Change the value for Printer Name or IP Address to the new IP address assigned to your printer.  That should solve your problem.

For some reason it’s not possible to change the Port Name value.  Oh well, at least it works.  For now.  What happens if your DHCP router decides to give your printer yet another IP address tomorrow?  Well, then you’ll have to repeat this fix.  Over and over again.  Let’s find out another way to fix this once and for all.

Long-term Fix

We actually have two options here.  The first is to configure the router so that the printer has a fixed IP address.  I will not go further into detail on that option.

Another option is to enter the printer’s name in the Printer Name or IP Address box.  You already know where to enter it, all that remains is finding out what name your device has.  And that’s fairly straightforward too.

On the printer, locate the button with the tools drawing on it and push it.  That opens up the printer’s settings.  You will find, and have the option to change, the printer’s name under the General Settings.

There you go, problem solved forever.

Happy printing!

Valentino.

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The Listening Device

Philips SHH8808 in-ear headphonesA while ago I wrote about an item which I’d bought and which I didn’t regret to have bought.  A backpack to be precise.  Today I ‘m still really happy with that purchase.  But that’s not the topic of this post.  No, today I’m going to tell you about another gadget which I’ve bought.  Well, gadget is a big word maybe for something as simple as an in-ear headset, more precisely a Philips SHH8808.

I’ve only owned it for some days, and again I’m really happy with the object.  I bought it initially so that I could watch some recorded presentations – I have downloaded them a while ago but never found the time to watch – while sitting on the train commuting from work.  And then I realized that the headset not only fits perfectly in my laptop, it also works very well in combination with my PC at work.

And why would I want to use a headset at work, you might ask yourself?  Radio!  Streaming radio!  I like music quite a lot, and I like different genres.  Although not all of them.  My musical preference is a bit difficult to describe, music with good guitar and drums, music made with samples, as long as it sounds good to me :-)

Since I started using the train to commute to work, I’ve not been getting my daily portion which I would otherwise get while driving my car.  That has now come to an (unexpected) end, finally I can listen to some music again.

In fact, already the first day the headset has proven to be useful.  My favorite radio channel, Studio Brussel (live stream – High Quality), was broadcasting a song which I’d never heard.  It was a hip hop song which sounded quite bizarre.  Initially I didn’t even know in what language the dude was singing but after a few seconds it hit me.  He was singing in Afrikaans (one of the languages spoken in South-Africa)!

Almost ten years ago, my wife and I visited that magnificent (though shocking due to the contrasts) country for a three-weeks-long holiday.  Being a Dutch-speaker myself I can understand quite a bit of the language that they speak over there (although not all of it, again difficult to describe:-)).

The song they were playing is called Cooler As Ekke, which means “Cooler Than Me”.

Jack Parow – Cooler As Ekke

And it’s quite funny when you listen to it, it’s even IT-related (slightly).  Here’s part of the lyrics:

Ek’s original jy’s gecopy

Ek’s ‘n flash drive jy’s ‘n floppy

In English that would be:

I’m original you’re a copy

I’m a flash drive you’re a floppy

For more fun, try out Dans Dans Dans (dans is dance in both Afrikaans and Dutch).

Ow, and check out the clip of Dans Dans Dans, I think it’s really great.  Made me think of Indiana Jones movies for some reason, with a twist though.  The dude in the suit is just amazing!

Jack Parow – Dans dans dans

Here’s one more, called Blaas Jou Vuvuzela.  Blaas means “blow”.  I’ll let you work out/look up the rest :-)

Still not satisfied?  Lookup Jack Parow on YouTube :-)

A Quick Headphones Review

Now, back to the headset.  When I got it out of its plastic package, I was a bit surprised by its cord, more precisely the length of it.  It was only 30 centimeters long!  Then I had a look at the package.  It read “for mobile phones”.  Oh no, don’t tell me they expect people to use this headset with their mobile phone clipped on their shirt, or in their shirt’s pocket?!  I must say I was a bit worried for a while, just a little while.

The small black bag Then I had another look in the package.  It contained a small black bag, made from some special fabric, with a rope around the opening so that it can be closed.  That bag contained, guess what, an extension cord of one meter.  Plus additional earplugs of different sizes: S and L.  The M-sized ones were mounted on the headphones by default.  Phieuw, what a relief!

Apparently they chose to use this extension cord system so that it can be replaced with a mobile phone-specific cord with a speaker – that’s what they meant with “for mobile phones”.

The cord itself is made out of some special kind of rubber, preventing it from getting all tangled up.  It’s weird and it feels “jumpy”.  Very nice!  And all connectors are in shiny yellow, well, gold plated material.  I’m not sure if gold plated stands for better sound quality per se, but I guess it doesn’t hurt either.  Plus, it looks really good.

I don’t have a lot of experience with in-ear headphones, but I’m surprised by the quality of the sound produced by these things.  There’s more bass coming out of them than I’d ever have imagined – certainly a much better sound than what’s coming out of the headset that shipped with my Samsung phone.  Everything is really clear, I even hear things better than when played through my stereo system at home.

So, if you’re looking for a not-too-expensive headset, try out the Philips SHH8808.

Have fun!

Valentino.

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I wasn’t expecting to be writing another item about customer service so soon after my lost rope issue, but here’s another story about excellent support from an online shop.

Sunday, 10th of Mayimage

I made an order at Firebox.com.  The order included four Yondi travel pillows for our kids and the Flippin’ Penguins game, for our kids as well :-) .

Monday, 11th of May

I received a confirmation that the order had shipped using TNT.

Wednesday, 13th of May

Shipment delivered at our neighbours (on our request as we were not at home during the day).

So in the evening we started unpacking the box.  All items were well protected using airbags to fill up the box.  There’s was even a free edible goodie, a mint Aero bar.  As far as I know this is not sold in Belgium so it was an interesting bite.

The penguin game requires two batteries, luckily we still had some waiting in our battery drawer.  Upon insertion of the batteries – exciting moment – we swapped the on/off switch and … nothing happened.  Hmm, bad batteries ?  Too old ?  Tried another set.  Still nothing.  All of them bad ?

To rule out an issue with the batteries we decided to try the device using freshly-bought batteries before filing a complaint.

Some days went by…

Tuesday, 26th of May

We finally had bought new batteries and tried them out.  But still no go so the engine really is broken.

The Firebox website has a very clear explanation on what to do when faulty goods are received.  The customer has 30 days time after receipt of the order so I wrote them an email explaining in short what we already tried out.

As this is an overseas order (UK > Belgium) I was quite curious to see how they would handle this.  After all, it costs money to ship such a large item and the sale price is £9.95.

Wednesday, 27th of May

Around noon the following reply was sent:

Hello Valentino,

I’m sorry to hear that you are having problems with the Flippin’ Penguins. Ordinarily we would get you to return your faulty product and then we would replace it.

However, rather than delay the matter further we are going to send you out a replacement ref: 1847702. You can dispose of the faulty ones that you.

Please do not hesitate to contact us again if you require any further assistance.

Kind Regards,
Sarah Kabunga
Firebox Team
Tel: 0844 922 1010

WINNER – Retailer of the Year (2008) Stuff Awards
WINNER – Best Retailer (2007) T3 Awards

Bored? Take a look at the Firebox Lunchtime Challenge, guaranteed to liven up your day…
http://www.firebox.com/features/lunchtimechallenge

“…we don’t stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing.”

Firebox.com Ltd is registered in England and Wales, company number 3874477
Registered Company Address: 41 Welbeck Street London W1M 8HD

In the evening of that same day I received a confirmation email to let me know that the “order” has shipped.

Friday, 29th of May

Shipment received.  Again we opened the box and inserted the batteries in the device.  Another exciting moment … flipped the switch … IT WORKS!

The box contained another Aero bar and a “£5 off on next order” voucher.

Conclusion

  • Excellent customer service
  • Fast delivery
  • Free goodies
  • If I keep writing these types of post I should start to ask for commission
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Like all tech guys (and girls) I like gadgets.  One of them is the PowerBall.  A crucial part in using the gadget is the little red rope.  And a while ago I lost it.  Apparently one of the main reasons that the little red rope disappears is when a cat uses it as its lunch/dinner/whatever-time-of-day meal.  That was not the case here as our cat lives outside (I’m allergic).  No, I think our vacuum cleaner ate it.

I am not one of those who can start the PowerBall just by using my hands – believe me, I tried but I guess my fingers are just not long enough – so I went on the web to search for a replacement.  And I found it!  Right on the website of The Powerball People!

After submitting my loss through their website here, I got a prompt reply from Philip Macbain to confirm what is written on the rubber grip band of my PowerBall.  This was last week Wednesday.  I replied back in the evening.  On Friday I received a confirmation that a spare part shipment had been dispatched containing 1x – Neon Pro – Starting Cords.  And today I received an envelope containing 2 little red ropes, posted in Ireland!  This is even an extra rope because my original purchase from some years ago now only contained one rope!

I would hereby like to thank The PowerBall People for their outstanding customer service!  Hoping to own a metallic ball some day in the future :-)

So if you’ve lost your rope(s) as well, contact The PowerBall People!

Disclaimer: no I am not sponsored in any way by The PowerBall People.  I just want everyone to know that – even in these times of difficult economic situations – there are still companies who take customer satisfaction highly!

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