Easy Tech Talk

Technology, Games, Gadgets, and Geekery

My Ink Cartridge Debacle and Why I Should Have Used an HP Coupon

This is a guest post from Ryan F of The Blog Content Guild

As a grad school student, I use a lot of ink. It seems like I have to buy a new ink cartridge for my printer every month. It’s frustrating to pay for printer cartridges with my meager teacher’s assistant stipend money when I want to be saving my money to buy more exciting tech-related things. Sure, I could get a deal with an HP Coupon every once in a while, but the price of new cartridges always seems high. So, one fateful day, I decided I would refill my cartridges for a fraction of the price at a cartridge refill shop. I did some research, read some Yelp reviews, and found a place pretty close to my house that would refill both my black and white and color cartridges for around $20. I was amazed that it was going to be so cheap. In retrospect, I should have known saving that much money was too good to be true. Here’s what happened:

When I took my refilled cartridges home from the shop, I was feeling good. Spending less money on cartridges meant that I could set aside more money to buy myself a new iPhone for Christmas. Plus, I had helped the environment. My cartridges weren’t joining the 85% of cartridges that end up in landfills. I was actually doing something useful and eco-friendly with them.

I popped the refilled cartridges in my printer, opened up a document on my computer, and sent the document to the printer. The printer started warming up, and everything sounded normal. I watched as the first page emerged from the printer. To my dismay, there were big green blots all over the paper, and the text was orange, instead of black. I hoped the results of the first print job were a fluke, so I tried to print the same document several times. Each time, the paper came out of the printer covered in unsightly green splotches, and the text color remained orange.

Then I took the cartridges back to the refill shop and asked if I could trade them out for some recycled ones that would work with my printer. Unfortunately, my printer didn’t react too kindly to the recycled cartridges either. After four trips to the refill shop, I was fed up. Every page I tried to print with the recycled cartridges looked like an abstract impressionist painting.

The story ends with me getting a refund from the cartridge refill shop, taking a trip to an electronics store, and paying full price for new cartridges. The new cartridges work like champs. Refilling printer cartridges might work for some people, but it didn’t work for me. Looks like I’ll have to find a new way to cut my printing costs, so I can save up to buy some tech toys.

San Diego Comic Con

A few weekends ago I was able to attend San Diego Comic Con and wanted to share the pictures I took while I walked the convention. After playing around with several image resizing programs and image gallery plugins I finally got all the images from San Diego’s Comic Con up. You’ll have to excuse some of the weird ratios (some images are squished, some are stretched), but this is what happens when you take hi-res photos and then size them down.

Anyway below you will find my San Diego Comic Con gallery with images (some of which might be considered NSFW) of everything from custom painted  Xbox 360 consoles, cosplay, action figures, celebrities, Conan O’Brien, and general video game and comic book imagery. There is also an image of 2 of the Frag Dolls dancing with Tobuscus and a few shots of the AOTS folk.

GalleryHosted.com Review

I recently had the pleasure of being asked to check out and talk about GalleryHosted.com and let me tell you that I’m glad that it happened. I was informed that it was going to be extremely simple to upload large groups of images and share it with anyone I wanted to. I went through the basic upload and also created an account to see how quickly these tasks could be completed. Below is my review of what I found at GalleryHosted.com.

The first thing that you will notice when you go to GalleryHosted.com is that the site immediately allows you to upload a large group of images (up to 300 at once) without the need to create an account. You are also allowed to specify the thumbnail size that you want the images to be displayed at once they are finished uploading. As far as uploading goes, you are given 2 options, the first option is your standard upload where you can browse your computer and select the images that you want. The second option is a bulk URL option that  you can choose the urls where you other images might be already uploaded to other sites such as flickr or photobucket and upload them directly to GalleryHosted. Both of these methods are quite fast compared to other sites that I’ve uploaded to and when they were finished I was presented with an easy to view page with all my images on it and all the corresponding links that I would want for either sharing or downloading. Image upload speeds were very fast which is a huge plus and there is no storage limit.

This brings me to my next discovery of the site, and that is they allow downloads of either select images or entire galleries. That’s right, I said entire galleries! So if you are a photographer that needs to allow someone to download their whole wedding photo gallery, or a digital artist who wants to provide a quick way to download a portfolio of images, GalleryHosted is your choice for image uploading and sharing. I know it sounds a little cheesy but I was very impressed with this option and as far as I can tell they are one of only a few sites if not the only site that allows full downloads of galleries in one shot.

Once you have uploaded your images and go to the gallery in which they are hosted, you are provided with one of the sleekest image viewers I’ve seen in a long time. There is a row of thumbnails at the top of the page which display an expanded thumbnail if you hover your mouse over them. You are also given the option to view the gallery as a grid or slideshow. I prefer the grid view as it doesn’t require a new window or tab to open up and is quite fast at loading up.

Overall the site design of GalleryHosted.com is extremely clean and very user friendly. The only ads I could find were at the bottom of the gallery once it was uploaded and they were non-intrusive albeit in French. I would recommend creating an account as the registration was a snap and once you’ve complete the registration you are given the option to delete galleries that you’ve uploaded while logged in to your account.

I highly recommend GalleryHosted.com as an image hosting and sharing site and am definitely going to be utilizing their service as often as I can.

If you’ve used GalleryHosted.com before and would like to share your experience please leave a comment below.

Easy Tech Talk’s 2nd Giveaway!

I got contacted by my friend over at Audials and was asked if I would be interested in giving away 5 more licenses to their Audials One software package. Of course I said yes which means you now have another chance at getting your hands on this awesome software for free. The best part about being contacted by the company is that they told me if I get enough entries they will send me more licenses for the software.

Before I put up the rules I just wanted to put a few bullet points about Audials’ software direct from someone that works there.

  • AudialsOne is a powerful search engine to find music and record it
  • AudialsOne can record movies form sites like Netflix, Hulu,
    YouTube, and others
  • AudialsOne can record everything you hear on any website or
    streaming application and automatically saves the file as a new
    MP3 or appropriate file format on your computer

So now that you’ve had a chance to read about it, it’s time to win some free stuff! Here’s how you can enter for your chance to win free stuff:

  • Posting a comment on this post with a legit email address will get you 1 entry
  • Following me on twitter will get you 1 entry
  • Tweeting the following will get you 1 entry “@EasyTechTalk is giving away free stuff, RT this to enter the contest”
  • Posting about this contest on your own blog with a link back will get you 2 entries
  • Following @unmatches on twitter will get you 1 entry (she is a friend of mine and needs followers)
  • Subscribing to me on Stumble gets you 1 entry
  • Putting this post in an RSS feed on facebook will get you 1 entry

I’m going to run this contest until the end of the month giving you plenty of time to enter.  So tell your friends and twitter followers to come by and enter the contest.
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Easy Tech Talk’s Holiday Gift Pick

After missing the opportunity to make a holiday gift list last year, I’ve decided to pick one gift this year that I feel is one of the best holiday gifts to give someone, especially someone who is into technology and gadgets.

The Flip MinoHD Camcorder camcorder is an excellent holiday gift for someone you know who is on the go or someone who is extremely mobile.  This little camcorder can store up to an hour of HD video in its 4GB internal memory and has a flip out USB plug, which eliminates the need to carry a cable around with you to hook it up to your computer.

It’s lightweight and compact which makes it easy to carry around so you can capture all the crazy hijinx that you might get into at a moments notice, and it also comes with its own software which will allow you to edit your video and email it to anyone you want.  It also allows you easy upload access to any of your favorite sites like Facebook, Youtube, or Myspace.

In today’s ever growing fast paced mobile world it’s good to have a portable camcorder on you so you are able to capture video of any event you are at.  With the Flip MinoHD’s small size, you are almost always guaranteed that you will be able to take it anywhere that might not allow camcorders such as a concert or even a private event.

I was a little worried when I first saw the flip out USB plug on the Flip MinoHD but after having the chance to use one of my friends’ and play with it a little bit, I found it was able to withstand a pretty solid amount of abuse without damaging the plug or the camcorder.

All in all the Flip MinoHD Camcorder is an amazing holiday gift for that one person you can’t think of anything to get.  And it’s pretty fairly priced for an HD camcorder of its size.

Audials Software Giveaway!

Recently I was contacted by a friend of mine who is working with a company called Audials who provide software that allows you to download music directly from internet radio streams to your computer, and it can also remove DRM (digital rights management) from certain audio files that you might get from other music sites.

Now they have given me one free copy of RS Audials Complete to give away to one lucky reader so here are the details. Each item listed will result in 1 entry to the contest.

  • Update your twitter with this tweet “@easytechtalk is giving away FREE software, read about it here http://easytechtalk.com/2009/12/05/audials-software-giveaway/”
  • Leave a comment below explaining what software you use to get music, make sure to use a valid email address!
  • Write a post about this giveaway with a link back to this post and send me an email “dmirro (at) easytechtalk.com”  with a link to your post (if you have more than one blog, each separate blog post will be 1 entry)
  • Sign up for my RSS feed using the email subscription box at the top of the site
  • Follow me on Twitter

The giveaway will end at 12pm PST on Dec 31 which gives you plenty of time to enter. The winner will be notified by email.

Here is some more information about Audials Complete from their website:

* Download any music you like for free!
* remove DRM protection.
* podcasts, lyrics, album covers and ID3 tags.
* Create mobile ringtones by yourself.

RS Audials Complete can legally removes copy-protection from WMA and M4P audio files.

RS Audials Complete does not just deliver free MP3 music but also entertainment as podcatcher that delivers thousands of free international audio- and video podcasts from an integrated database which is always up to date.

RS Audials Complete automatically brings you the missing ID3-tags for your tracks, album covers and lyrics. Additionally, the Tagrunner editor offers the possibility of manual processing. Synchronization with mobile devices like Apple iPod, MP3-Player or multimedia player comes with Audials Complete as a “by default” function. Besides the Mini-Player, RS Audials complete gives you the ability to play all songs directly within your favorite media player.

Visit the RS Audials Complete homepage here.

UPDATE: The randomizer has spoken and the winner of the contest is MouthyGirl (@mouthygirl)

Conficker Virus Removal

Recently I had the pleasure of removing the Conficker virus from my machine at home and at work and wanted to share a tool I found that helped me out tremendously.

First of all the Conficker virus is a pretty aggressive bot-net creating virus that spread throughout the internet a few months ago but recently a new variant came up and started infecting computers again. For those of you who don’t know, a bot-net is a large group of infected computers that virus software creators gain access to after their virus infects computers and it allows them to have control over this group of computers to do whatever they want to such as hacking or other malicious acts.

The Conficker virus will do a list of things to your machine to hide the fact that you are infected such as disabling your Windows Automatic Updates, disabling anti virus software updates, and blocking certain websites that would provide help on updating either Windows or your anti virus. Luckily there are companies out there that make virus removal tools to help get rid of these types of viruses.

Enigma software has been the best removal tool I’ve used to date, it’s fast and simple to use and doesn’t really require any input on your part except for hitting a button or two. You can download the Conficker removal tool here. (the link will automatically kick off the download)  For those of you who want to do a little more research first, you can visit Enigma Software’s homepage here.

Now I want to make it clear, due to the recent FTC regulation change (opens a pdf document) that this is NOT a sponsored post, but a helpful post that you will hopefully pass onto your friends to help them find out if they’ve got the Conficker virus or not.  So pass it on.

Got any other good virus removal tools?  Share them in the comments section or send me an email

Are we sharing too much information?

A lot of people who use social media sites like Myspace or Facebook do so to keep track of and communicate with friends.  These friends could be from kindergarten, college, or work, but they are all considered friends of the person befriending them.  This works well if all people on the friends list can interact with each other or can handle what others have to say, but what happens when someone deliberately posts a comment that is meant to dig at someone else?  What if someone misinterprets what is said in a comment and starts to argue with the person whose friend left the original comment?  This is where social media becomes a battleground for people who dislike each other but who have a common friend battle it out with words and comments.

People are willing to share more information today than they were 5 years ago and it is affecting everything from friendships to relationships, and even jobs.  People are getting fired for posting pictures of how drunk they got over the weekend or posting comments like “callin’ in sick today, so hungover…”  Relationships are being torn apart by ex boyfriends or girlfriends leaving menacing comments or current boyfriends / girlfriends leaving nasty remarks that someone’s ex might see if they go to that person’s myspace or facebook profile.  Some people go as far as uploading videos for their entire friend’s list of people to see of themselves at parties getting drunk and acting slutty or trying to act tough and fighting someone.  Is this too much information for people to see about you?  Do you really want to have your friend back home show everyone how stupid you look when you’re drunk, or how immature you sound as you leave comments on people’s pages in hopes of it hurting someone’s feelings, just to make yourself feel better?  Do people really care about the status of your bathroom trip that you tweeted to twitter?

Part of the problem, and this lies more with Myspace than Facebook, is that the profile pages are public for everyone to see until that user sets it to private.  Now if there was a way of preventing certain friends to see you pictures and comments, and prevent other users from seeing them, then that would alleviate a lot of the problem.  But people don’t want to do that much micromanaging to their account.  Curiosity will always triumph over rationale, and it’s been bred into humans to be jealous and there’s not much that can be done about that.

Social media has undergone a change that has brought it away from it’s original goal of helping people connect and communicate with friends and family, and has turned into yet another popularity contest outside of high school for people to go through and try and gain acceptance through.  What good can come of this?  How are people supposed to grow up if they’re constantly in a state of mind like that of a high schooler?

Now don’t get me wrong, there are sites that are considered social media like linkedin which connect professionals who are looking to expand their network of contacts in hopes of branching out into a new job or new field of interest.  This is what most social media should try and aim to get back to.  Social media should be a way for people to connect and share thoughts or ideas but not promote animosity between people.

Tell me what you think.  Do you think we share too much information with the world, or is this what the new generation should be getting i