Category Archives: Gadgets

What to Do When Your Copier Scanner Breaks

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Having trouble getting your copier/scanner to work right? Need to troubleshoot? Here are some tips sent in by a community member that will help you.

  • If the copier does not copy, print or scan turn it off and back on. They sometimes need to reboot just like a computer. They are more like your desktop PC then you know. Many run Windows Xp or Linux in their print controllers and others use Linux for the main operating system of the copier.
  • If you pull out a jam and end up with less then a full sheet of paper in your hand, the copier is still jammed. Try to find the rest of the sheet. When you tear out a piece of paper, any fragments still in there will find a nice dark place to jam and will snag the next copy you make. Many times what would have been a simple jam clearing exercise will become a wait for a service technician to fix the machine.
  • If the copies are light and the copier is not displaying a toner low message, don’t add toner. Something else is wrong. All copiers have sensors that detect low and empty toner conditions. Many problems start out as light copies. Continuing to run the machine may actually cause additional damage and expense. Call for service.
  • All toner is not the same stuff. If you run out of toner, don’t add any that’s intended for a different model copier. You will cause a major problem adding the wrong kind. Think of it like getting a blood transfusion with the wrong blood type.
  • If you get a dark line on your copies when feeding though the document feeder, but not when you copy from the platen glass check for Wite-out, ink or other foreign matter on the narrow piece of glass that is next to the big platen glass. Most modern copiers use document feeders that roll the originals over this narrow glass (often referred to as the “slit glass”). When something sticks to this glass it causes dark lines on copies.
  • BonusTip!! The copier technician wants your copier to operate correctly as much as you do. Many times problems are very intermittent. It helps the technician to know the details of the copy job that caused the problem. Stuff like: paper tray used, single sided or doubled sided copies, the size of your copy/print job, finishing options selected and if it was a copy quality problem, a sample of the copy with the problem.

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SLR Accessories to Buy

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Calvin writes: “Just watched you video on your new Rebel XTi. Congrats! I remember when I made the jump and it was great. As a hobby photograph,I used point and shoot cameras for a while. I thought I’d suggest 5 things that I found helpful as a DSLR owner.”

  • Additional lenses I’m not being specific here, because every “eye” is different. I like landscape shots, so my wide angle lens hogs my Canon body a lot. It always helps to carry more than one lens at a time, you never know when you need that Telephoto moment or that wide angle when you just can’t step back any further. Assuming you’re gonna stick with Canon lenses, be mindful of the difference between EF and EF-S lenses. EF-S is for the cropped sensor models e.g. Rebel XTi, whereas EF are usually for the full frame sensor models e.g. 5D. You can fit EF lenses on an EF-S body, but you can’t fit EF-S lenses on a full frame body. So if further down the line you trade that Rebel XTi in for a full frame model those EF-S lenses won’t work! Also, Canon don’t ship lens hoods with their lenses that aren’t part of the L range (argh!) so you’re gonna have to buy a separate lens hood for that lens if it’s not an L “Luxury” model. IS (Image Stabilization) is another feature to look out on lenses for if you find out you have more shaky hands then you realize. Since the body doesn’t have this technology and any IS you get will be from the lenses, the benefit of this that you can see the IS effects through the viewfinder.
  • Battery Grip Picture the scene, your baby is in Ponzi’s arms and is about to yawn for the first time. You reach out for your camera in attempt to snap this amazing moment…. only to find out the battery is dead. Not that this has happened to me, but you can imagine you’d be pretty livid if this were to happen, regardless of how organized you are with batteries. Which is why I recommend a battery grip for your Rebel XTi. Not only can you store 2 batteries worth of power within the grip, but it also allows you to hold your camera vertically much easier and has additional controls when holding it in that position. The official Canon model is the BG-E3, but if you find that too pricey, there are some other ones out there which are basically the same but don’t sport the Canon name.
  • Flashgun + diffuser Whilst the flash is acceptable on the camera itself, it can never fully compare to a proper flashgun. With one, you can adjust its angle so you can bounce the flash off walls or ceiling for a less direct flash. Or even better, use an off-shoe camera cord and manually control the direction of the flash with your hand off-camera. Take a look at the offerings from Canon’s Speedlite range, they’re sure to get you going a bit. I also recommend getting a flash diffuser. Basically its a small device which softens the flash from the flash gun, which is especially useful if you need that direct flash but don’t want the harsh shadows that go with it.
  • Tripods/Monopods Tripods are fantastic if you want to take shots which just aren’t possible handheld. I have a bit of a soft spot for long exposure shots, but that’s just me! I recommend something from the Giottos and Velbon range. Again, I won’t name specifics because everyone has their own tastes so I suggest you get down to the store and have a feel, tug at its joints and play around with it. A monopod isn’t a must, but if you feel the need to reduce the camera shake in those moments but don’t have the time to setup the full Tripod, it may come in handy.
  • Camera bag You’ve got the equipment, now you need a container. I have several camera bags, namely a backpack if I want to carry a tripod, laptop and a few lenses for a long trip or a small messenger bag for just the camera and another lens. Unfortunately, I find most camera bags look too much like camera bags and are begging to be swiped. I recommend Crumpler. It’s not cheap, but they do make attractive bags. And whilst now thieves have caught on that Crumpler bags are what more and more photographers are using, for the most part they disguise themselves pretty well as being passed off as just “a bag”. They make a large range of backpacks and messenger bags for photographers so do check them out. If you don’t mind that obvious camera bag look, check out bags made by Lowepro. Their sling bags are a favorite for photographers, and their range is very respectable.

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Notebook Cooler

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Notebooks come with many accessories. Something important that you really need is something to keep it cool. You can find many different options online. Let’s take a look at this Targus Notebook cooler.

The Targus Notebook Cooling Chill Mat really works! My Mac is running about ten degrees cooler on average. It’s definitely cooler to the touch, where it used to run a bit warm. The best thing about it, is the fact that there’s no need for a power cord. It runs off of a mini-USB port, and includes four additional USB ports! I don’t really like the long USB cable that comes with it, but we all know how much I hate ALL cords. I’m going to try and find a retractable cord to use.

Maximize notebook performance by keeping the notebook cool during use. Two fans generate cool air to help prevent the notebook from overheating. The Chill Mat can be used in the office to protect furniture from heat damage, or on the go to protect your lap from notebook heat. Four rubber feet keep your notebook in place on the Chill Mat to avoid slipping and provide a sturdy workspace. The Chill Mat is highly portable for travel and plugs directly into your notebooks’ USB port so no AC adapter is required.

At only about $30.00, this truly is an excellent buy. One tip to keep in mind, is to turn the cooling on prior to booting up the notebook, for maximum cooling performance.

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Buying a Desk

I am looking into possibly buying myself a new desk soon. These tips sent in by community member Serores will definitely come in handy for me. I hope they will for you, as well. Currently, I’m using a Bush Series C / Corsa – Hansen Cherry.

  • Size: If you’re only going to be using a laptop and maybe some books and papers, you dont have to waste your money on a huge desk. This way, you can save a lot of money and buy other things to enjoy in your home office. On the other hand, if you have a huge monster computer like the one Chris gave to Kat, you may want a bigger desk. This also depends on the kind of monitor you’re using, and if you want your computer tower on or under your desk.
  • Shape: Chances are, if you’ve had your house for awhile you already have a pretty cluttered office. So, here comes the question of where will you put your desk? If you want it in the corner, get a triangular one. If you want it just on the flat wall get a square one. If you want it on the ceiling, you’re looking at spending a lot of money on duct-tape… so I dont recommend that.
  • Compartments: If you’re the kind of person with a lot of knicknacks, papers, books, and other miscellaneous items, you may want to look into a desk with a lot of compartments. The compartments should be various sizes to fit everything you need. This is where, if you want to get fancy, you can bring a list of things you’ll have on your desk shopping with you, to remind you of what you have. This way, you can look at a desk and picture how everything would go on it.
  • Quality: Simple, if you have a lot of heavy stuff… you dont want your desk to fall over. Also, a good sturdy desk is best when you have kids or pets that are always jumping off the walls. Another exaple of quality is wood smoothness. If you’re an artist like me, you know what it’s like to draw on a table with gaps between the boards when you have no tablet.
  • Look: I know for me this would be the last thing I look at. However, for some this may be of high importantance. Pick something that matches your style and color scheme (if you have one). Also, stay away from annoying bright crazy colors that won’t let you focus on a book or the screen, because you are distracted by your desk.

13 Port USB Hub!

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I absolutely love USB. I’ve made no secret of that fact in the past. I run out of USB ports all the time. I have 8 ports on my computer itself, and an additional 7 off the pc. I still don’t have enough! So, receiving this for Christmas was great!

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a serial bus standard to interface devices. USB was designed to allow peripherals to be connected using a single standardized interface socket and to improve plug-and-play capabilities by allowing devices to be connected and disconnected without rebooting the computer (hot swapping). Other convenient features include providing power to low-consumption devices without the need for an external power supply and allowing many devices to be used without requiring manufacturer specific, individual device drivers to be installed.

I have tons of thumb drives, have used the USB Snowman, and even the doggie that plugs into a USB port and does “doggie things”. I’m looking for more cool USB devices. What ideas of things I can get do you have? Leave me a follow-up comment, or send an email to me at [email protected]

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LED Lights

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Ponzi got me the coolest thing for Christmas! They’re the perfect compliment for my Tix Clocks, and really make my office fun to be in… and hopefully fun for you all to look at, as well.

The Cyron HT 1502 Media Highlighter System is a full color spectrum solid-state lighting system. Ideal for accent lighting and ambient lighting for confined areas. Produce any color of light at a push of a button. Six pre-programmed patterns and a music mode. Safe low-voltage, no heat, enery efficient and 50,000-hour life.

I decided to put these on the top of my desk hutch. They use hardly any energy, and don’t put off much heat. They change colors, and put out a heck of a lot of light. These things are way cool looking, aren’t they? If you come by the chat room and type in what is glow, you’ll get the link to this product.

Thanks so much to Ponzi, for always knowing exactly what I want… even if I don’t know it myself.

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Making MIDI Music with the Yamaha Tenori-On

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I have no musical ability or talent at all. It’s not for lack of trying, I assure you. I love music, and I love creating music. Thanks to the person from the community who recommended this great new toy, I can do this easily! And… special thanks to Ponzi for getting me this for Christmas!

The TENORI-ON from the folks at Yamaha is just amazing. It’s absolutely COOL. It’s so new, you cannot purchase it in the United States as of yet. Using this, you can easily and quickly create your own music, and even save it! You can’t go wrong… with the TENORI-ON, there is no such thing as “bad music”.

You’re going to create your music by changing instrument sounds, and adding different “layers”, so to speak. As the first chords you created loop, you can add another… and another… and, you get the point. As I was demonstrating the TENORI-ON during this recording, the community members in the live.pirillo.com chat room were all dancing in their chairs. This is a lot of fun, and you’ll be the hit at any party!

The TENORI-ON is a unique 16 x 16 LED button matrix performance instrument with a stunning visual display. For DJs & producers it is a unique performance tool enabling them to perform using MIDI and load the TENORI-ON with samples to ‘jam / improvise’ within their set BPMs.

TENORI-ON layers can be thought of as “performance parts” or “recording tracks.” The TENORI-ON has a total of 16 layers. Separate notes and voices can be assigned to each layer, and all layers can be played together in synchronization.
The 16 layers are divided into six performance mode groups as shown in the illustration below. The six modes have different note entry methods and operation. Up to 16 layers created using different modes can be combined for rich, complex musical expression.

Once complete set of 16 layers is called a “block.”
The TENORI-ON can store up to 16 programmed blocks (16-layer groups) in memory, and you can switch from block to block instantly during performance.
You could, for example, create a musical composition in one block, then copy that composition to another block and edit it to create a variation of the original composition. Or you can load a number of previously-created compositions into separate blocks from an SD Memory Card and switch between them to create variation during playback.

The TENORI-ON retails for about $1200.00. It may seem pricey to you, but it can be used by DJ’s and professional Musicians. It’s being used on several artist’s upcoming albums, so be on the ‘listen’ for the TENORI-ON. You can also listen to a free demo!

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USB Microscope Review

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So can you tell what it is I’m looking at? Yes, it really is a hair from my nose. I wanted to show you what it looks like using this USB Microscope. I’m not doing a live screen capture because it doesn’t work on Vista, and keeps giving me a BSOD on Windows. I can’t run it on a Mac, because the maker wants you to pay for Mac software! That is just ludicrous.

The QX5 USB Microscope is pretty much designed for kids. The software leaves a lot to be desired, but the hardware is great. The image quality is actually excellent.

This computer microscope allows you to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary for hours of fun and learning. View specimens collected around the house, backyard, your desk, or the fridge. Look at the micro-printing on a dollar bill or examine the traces on your motherboard. This microscope provides you an easy way to zoom in on a wide variety of objects to satisfy your curiosity of the world around you. Ever wondered what lint looks like or the mold growing on your week-old bagels? Now you can find out.

Simple plug and play operation with included software that allows you to magnify objects and view them on your PC up to 200X and take snapshots and time-lapse movies. You can also manipulate images with drawing and painting tools. The QX5 microscope is detachable from the stand to allow you to get closer to large objects.

The USB Microscope QX5 has these great features:

  • Take snapshots, video, and time-lapse movies
  • 3 magnification levels – 10X, 60X, and 200X
  • Super-brite LED lighting for bright top and bottom illumination
  • Video playback at 15 frames/sec
  • Resolution of 640×480
  • Software works with Windows 98, Me, 2000, XP
  • Handheld mode allows for expanded viewing possibilities
  • Comes with: Microscope, USB cable, Stand, Specimen Jars, Sample Slide, Tweezers, Eye Dropper, Slide Clip, and Software CD-ROM

Thanks to the guys over at ThinkGeek for sending me this to review!

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i-Sobot Robot Toy Review

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Awhile back, I had a toy robot that I never even took out of the box. It was huge, and took like 75 D batteries to operate. The great people over at ThinkGeek sent me one of their new i-SOBOTs to play with. This thing is definitely addictive… and now will be a regular part of my show.

The i-SOBOT robot is just amazing and fun. The I-SOBOT is the big brother of the Omnibot robot you may remember from the 80’s. Frankly there isn’t much of a family resemblance. With 17 servo motors and amazing lifelike movement the i-SOBOT is more like a mini version of some futuristic robotic race destined to be our masters. The i-SOBOT can be directly controlled via the included remote to walk and perform dozens of complex motions. He can balance on one leg, do a handstand and get up from almost any position. String commands together to record more complex performances, or you can use the “Special Action Mode” to be wowed by one of i-SOBOTS intricate built in motion routines. i-SOBOT can also understand 10 different voice commands and speaks using over 200 words and phrases.

i-Sobot has Four operation Modes

  • Remote Control Mode Movements can be controlled directly using joy sticks and command buttons. He can also perform hundreds of amazing pre-programmed actions using short button codes.
  • Programming Mode Program a sequence of up to 80 actions, then easily play the sequence back with the push of a button.
  • Special Action Mode Command i-SOBOT to play air guitar, impersonate a movie character, or perform any of 18 pre-programmed special actions.
  • Voice Command Mode i-SOBOT recognizes 10 voice commands, reacting with dozens of appropriate but unpredictable actions.

As far as just playing with this robot, I give it an A+. The only downside I’ve seen so far is the fact that in order to install the batteries, you must have a precision screwdriver. If you don’t happen to have one, you’re…. well… precisionally screwdrivered. So for that fact, I give the setting-up of the i-SOBOT a B. Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

How to Pick the Best (and Worst!) Christmas Gifts for Gamers

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These are some excellent tips for buying gifts for console gamers. Not only did he send in the top five things to buy them… we also get the top five things *not* to buy!

Top Five Best Gift Ideas for Console Gamers

  • A game is usually just kinda like oh, it’s a game. I realize games are expensive, but chances are you don’t get one of the good ones cuz they can tend to be sold out. How about 2 or 3 of the Platinum hits, they’re about the same price total, from 19.99 to 29.99, and you really feel like “hey, it’s a great gift” and he/she will be like “wow, that’s a lot of games” or “I always wanted to play that”.
  • Accessories – this is a hit or miss. Something like a second controller, an extra battery pack, a charging station, these are gifts that most any gamer can use. I’d recommend against the cameras, as they lead to other issues.
  • Gift cards for purchasing games and customization features: MS points or even ps3 will soon have their cards for sale, Wii i believe also has their own points cards. You can also make these part of a nice gift box: either add it list item 1 or 2, or for 360 owners even w/ say a 12month live membership for xbox 360.
  • Ok, now those are a bit obvious let’s try something you might not think of. Have that nephew who has been playing online but can only do so by disconnecting the main computer? Why not give him a router? This is a major tool for most any gamer, console or pc. How bout wifi? Not very recommendable for gaming, but it is an option.
  • Ok, this is the last item so i’ll try and make it a good one. An A/V selector… the television is often disregarded. It’s fine if you have to disconnect a cable here and there, but if it’s the tv in the family room and you’re out of connections, you will have to share one with another device. How about hooking it up to the a/v device and allowing room for even more growth? This is especially a great idea for those with multiple consoles.

Top Five Worst Gift Ideas for a Console Gamer

  • Cd wallets and cleaning kits: yeah, woo, ok, really?If I want to clean my console, all i need to do is go get a soft towel, damp it a lil and good to go. I don’t need soft wipes for my plastic and metal case. Most gamers aren’t displaying their consoles in a special case so you don’t really care bout finger prints and such. Cd cases, we all know what happenes. You’ve been into most people’s cars. They have the wallets with games here and there, out of order, and with the teeth for the zipper, most don’t realize, as you slide a disk in and out, this can start to scratch it once the wallet starts to get full.
  • Cheap a/v cables: ok, now I don’t really know why you would be buying some for someone as a gift, so just don’t. If you can’t get them expensive Monster cables, don’t bother. The gift will not be appreciated and at best, it’ll end up tangled and never used. The original cables that ship with a console will always outperform anything from madcatz and the like.
  • Cheap bargain bin games: ok, this one is a no brainer. In the bargain bin you will find games such as Battle Tech, Bionicle Heroes, and Happy Feet. Yes, they made a game. Now, while you may find some good titles, chances are you will crash and burn. Avoid this at all costs. You may be able to get by if it’s for a 7 year old, but you try this on a teenager and, well, you get the idea.
  • Strategy Guides: Who uses these? Chances are if they’re stuck, they’ll either hit up the message boards online for help or ask a friend. You don’t buy a book that is in essence equal to being led by the hand through a haunted house. If they can’t figure it out, and they need a guide, they have no business playing the game.
  • If you want to buy a console game for someone (say… the Wii), and it’s sold out… do NOT get a rain check. You pay for the console that may not come in for many weeks, and they give you an empty box to wrap. Poor Johnny opens it, and is tormented knowing that it’s empty, and there’s no game. Spend the money on something else, and get the game later.

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