Tag Archives: wireless

I hate printers

I’ve had a hate / hate relationship with printers from the day I got a thermal printer for my ZX Spectrum and it has lasted throughout my entire computing career.  There have been two highlights in that period, my Panasonic KXP1124i 24 pin dot matrix printer which I purchased around 1991 and my HP LaserJet 4L which I purchased sometime around 1993.  Those printers served me well and they just worked (mostly), the LaserJet made it around 10 years.  Every other printer I’ve dealt with on a home user level or at work has been painful and annoying.  Printers see me coming, they refuse to work, they jam, they eat paper, they randomly drop words, they do everything in their power to make turning electricity into print as painful as possible.

I had the HP LaserJet 4L for an age, and it kept going and going.  Eventually we sort of stopped needing a printer and it sat for a very long time unused.  Then we got a very cheap Inkjet (I forget why) which was terrible, and refused to print more than a few test pages.  We went back to using the LaserJet but it was showing it’s age.  We got another one maybe two Inkjets, the last one was a Lexmark all-in-one, which seemed okay, but after only a few weeks the ink in the print heads dried up and caused issues.  New cartridges worked for a very short time and then did the same thing, we relegated it to a scanner and then moved it upstairs.  The LaserJet came back out – but now it had sat for a long time, and the cartridge was struggling, it gave off a pretty serious burning smell when used and the noise sounded like we were using small cats as paper, flattening them with the rollers.

We gave up on printing.  Who needed it anyway?  Spengler said print was dead in 1984 and I was beginning to believe him.

Then along came roleplaying and suddenly I need to print stuff again.  Character sheets, maps, encounter tracking sheets.  I wasn’t about to be thwarted again.  I know a friend who’s technical opinion I trust very well likes HP printers and has had one without issue for a little while so I started looking at those.  If I was to avoid having a 10 foot USB cable or buying a cabinet then it only made sense to get a wireless one.  HP do quite a nice little all-in-one (the C4585) and we just got back with it – very impressed so far, I hope the ink cartridges hold out.

NB: If you own an HP C4585 and they suck, don’t tell me.  I don’t care.  It’s too late.  I bought it already.

Traffic and Open Wireless Networks

Around a mile from home we got stuck in traffic today.  Long queue, moving very slowly in fits and starts, along a main road off which the road we live is directly connected.  It took us about 20 minutes to travel that mile, maybe longer.

I jokingly said to Grete I’d get the laptop out, find an open wireless network and blog about the traffic to pass the time.  I didn’t quite go that far, but I did get the laptop out and click refresh regularly on the ‘find wireless network’ option.  It’s fun to see what people call their wireless networks.  Some people give their own names away, some people continue to give away the name of their kit (both of these provide room for abuse if you can work out which house the kit is in), and the majority of networks in the area near to where I live are secured.  But not all of them.

I can’t believe how many people still run unsecured wireless networks.  We were probably 20-30 feet from the houses we were passing, and I was getting signal strengths of around 15% to 65% from inside a car, with the laptop running on battery on my knee.  In the rain (not raining inside the car, obviously).  Do people not think, or do they think it won’t happen to them?  The best bits were where we passed side streets, and we’d go from 2 or 3 networks in range to 10.  There’s a massive amount of wireless traffic hanging around our streets.  Most of them are BT Home Hub or Sky devices (and identify themselves as such).  Here’s a selection of our favourites.

Amusing Wireless network name

Clearly someone with a sense of humour.

Need to keep their legs crossed

This person needs to secure their legs more carefully.

Random unsecured network (and default name)

Random unsecured network (and default name)

Don't be Nosy!

Don’t be Nosy! More polite than the first one.

Another default open connection

Another default open connection not far from where I live.

From my drive

That’s the view from my driveway.  That’s not my wireless network.

The one I didn’t get a screenshot of, but wish I had was the one with ~70% strength, called ‘default’ which was unsecured.  I’m guessing it’s unconfigured as well, and hence if you got connected you could probably also connect to the router in question and reconfigure it.

Friends don’t let friends run unsecured Wireless network devices.