Friday, December 22, 2006

Mac driver for Minolta 2400W and how to get a colour laser for £100!

I found myself in need of a printer urgently today. I had an important business letter to print and hand-deliver and my Epson Photo Stylus 950 ran out of cyan ink. If you know Epson inkjet printers, you'll know that they refuse to print if one cartridge is empty. As I had no spare cartridge (light cyan but not cyan!) I needed one urgently. Trouble is, you cannot buy a genuine one for this particular printer for love nor money, at least not from a bricks and mortar business. Only online. But I needed it now and no-one delivers (yet) in 4 hours if you order online.

So, I could save the document to a USB drive, nip out to a friends to print it out or I could buy a new printer. Now, before you think I am a rich person with more money than sense, let me say in my defence that I print a lot of documents and my previous laser had died on me. Lasers are cheaper than inkjets go as far as running costs are concerned, especially if you buy toner online. So, it was off to PC World and Staples to see if I could buy a cheap mono laser just 2 shopping days before Christmas.
In the end I bought a colour laser. Surely this was extravagent? Not really, as I managed to buy one for £100... yes you heard me, £100. Staples had a Konica Minolta 2400W for £149.00. I asked if it was available to take away and the young assistant said he would ask. Turned out that the answer was yes, but there was a problem. They couldn't find any leads, discs or even a box for it. Did I still want it? As I was musing this over, they said it would be reduced as a result of the missing items. I asked how much and the assistant had to ask the manager. Back came the word, I could have it for £100! Now, I was prepared to pay £125, so of course I bit their hands off there and then!

Now, if you have read my blog before, you will know I am a Mac user and you may also know that this particular printer is Windows only. Now Samsung (my previous now dead laser was a Samsung), say their printer (I am referring to the CPL 500 series) is Windows only, BUT, if you do a search on their site, you will eventually find some Mac drivers and they work fine. Minolta however are adament, strictly Windows only. Oops, you say, I made a blunder. No, I can say with a certain amount of smugness, as I know that there are a host of generous-hearted folk out there writing drivers for all sorts of printers for the Linux and Mac platforms. Hurrah for the open-source community. So it was that in minutes of arriving home I had the printer plugged in, drivers installed and was clicking print within minutes.

However, all did not go according to plan, as the output was smudgy and faint in parts. No problem, take out the toner, give it a shake and put it back. Still no joy. In the end, I managed to get one page out of ten to print OK, so off I set with just 10 minutes to spare and hand deliver an important letter for a client. Phew! After that, I decided to buy some black toner, just in case the toner (only a starter one with a measley 1500 capacity) was low. When I installed it I still had poor printoputs. In the end I solved the problem.

Here is my hint for others:
Hint: Make sure that before use, you check the fuser separator levers are DOWN. They are raised when a printer is stored or not used for a long time. I made the assumption that as the store might have printed out samples they would be down but in fact they we up and hence my printouts were rubbish. Once I had put the levers down my prtintouts were great. Lesson learned.
Now, if anyone else finds they have or are thinking of buying a printer that is advertised as Windows only and they need Linux or Mac drivers, then check the internet. For Minolta 2000 series printers, check here :

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Latest render in TG2

This is my latest render in TG2. I am gradually getting to grips with the interface and the myriad of options available oin this new version of Terragen. It is much more sophisticated and I am sure that I am only just scratching the surface of what is possible.

Keep checking out my blog or my galleries for more updates in the near future.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Technology Preview of Terragen 2 now available for download!

The long-awaited update to Terragen is now available for download....


Terragen 2 (TG2) is now the primary development focus of Planetside Software. TG2 is a complete rewrite of Terragen from scratch, and is a significant advance beyond the capabilities of Terragen v0.9. Apart from being a much more powerful renderer, TG2 has a much more flexible architecture which will allow development to proceed at a considerably greater pace.

Core Features

Terragen 2 features the following as part of its core architecture :

  • Cutting-edge adaptive subdivision renderer.
  • Modular, plugin-based architecture.
  • Render entire planets, sweeping vistas, tiny rock gardens, or anything in between.
  • Import 3D objects for rendering. Export high resolution objects.
  • Render millions of boulders or trees using "instancing"; even billions of virtual objects
  • Add multiple heightfields to your scene. Use procedural terrains that can span an entire planet.
  • Apply almost "infinite" fractal detail to terrain and other objects.
  • Overhanging terrain using procedural displacements, image-based displacements, or imported geometry.
  • Volumetric clouds or fast "2.5D" clouds.
  • Production quality anti-aliasing and motion blur.

Visit Planetside

Thursday, December 07, 2006

James Kim found deceased

CNET colleague James Kim found deceased by ZDNet's Dan Farber -- Many of you have been following the search for our CNET colleague James Kim. After the good news that his wife and two children were found in good condition, James' body was found today in a remote part of Oregon wilderness, where he had been missing for 11 days. James covered digital audio for [...]

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Honey does the Ballon Dance

This was our family rabbit, Honey. Sadly he died recently of a viral infection. Here he is amusing us by chasing a balloon round and round.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Merse Island Sept 2006

Mersea is famous for its oysters and you can even pick them up on the beach, though how fresh they will be I can't say!

Photographs from France

Here are some images from our recent family trip to Dunkerque.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Its been a while....

Its been a while since my last post and its still summer here most days. Yesterday was very wet but the day before it was sunny, blue skies and hot! Not sure where exactly it comes from but the expression "Indian Summer" fits perfectly.

Over the summer we were fortunate enough to visit friends in France, stayng in their home and experiencing the 'French" style of living. Very attractive it was too, much more relaxed than what passes for the normal state of things here in England. Makes the idea of buying property in France even more attractive. All we need now is few tens of thousands!

Turning to my new MacBook Pro it is now truly bedded in. My experience of running Windows on it is positive. I haven't got around to installing Boot Camp and have decided in fact to wait for the next iteration of OS X when it will be included as part of the installation. This means I can't play games that rely DirectX but as I don't generally play them anyway that is no loss.

Everything else works fine, including Terragen, Photoshop (V5) etc and for a while I even had Ubuntu up and running, but deleted it as I didn't use that much. The speed of Windows booting up is amazing, less than 30 seconds and it easy to suspend it, to free up system resources and then start it again instantly almost! Hats off the Parallels, as they have done a magnificient job. Who knows, they mean even get the DirectX issue sorted but Apple releases Leopard and then I can stick with Tiger a little while longer.

Still no temp monitor yet... something I feel would be an essential item in view of the heat this thing generates. At the moment I switch off the laptop at night as it runs so hot. Its also greener and I'm into that. 

All in all I am well pleased with my purchase and would recommend one to anyone. If you don't need high end graphics then go with a MacBook as its getting rave reviews.

That's all for now. Take care out there!

Monday, June 19, 2006

MacBook Pro

I recently took delivery of a new MacBook Pro laptop. I opted for the 2.0 GHz version with 2 Gig of Ram as it means I won't need to upgrade for quite a while and it should meet my needs for the forseeable future.

My experience so far has been largely positve. I'll start with the negatives first though.

1. Heat - the heat generated by the dual-core chip is enormous. I don't recommend using the laptop on bare legs as I can quite easily see a serious burn resulting! Others have referred to this issue. As yet I see no real resolution of this issue. Mine isn't as a result of the plastic cover over the vent having got stuck as admitted by Apple in some cases as the cause. I did download a couple of widgets to monitor the temp but neither seems to work as far as temp goes.

2. The odd freeze and one instance of kernal panic - though nothing serious as yet.

3. The screen and keyboard show dirt and grease up too easily and heavy use requires frequent cleaning - not serious but a pain nevertheless.

Now for the positives. Too many to go into detail but here are the main ones in my experience:

1. Fast!!! Much faster than my iMac 17" TFT. I have now passed this onto my daughter. Programs such as Vue and DAZ Studio render much quicker and are more of a delight to use than previously. Everything seems to load almost instantaneously and the 2 Gig of RAM makes a huge difference.

2. Windows! Yes, being able to run Win XP when needed is a real boon. I can finally give up on my separate PC. I don't need to do this on a daily basis but it certainly helps being able to just switch over and Parrallels software is blazingly fast at booting Windows... much faster than my PC. I haven't bothered with Boot Camp but my son keeps pestering me to do so so he can see how FPS Creator runs. Perhaps over the summer holidays I'll get around to it. It would be nice to have the option of playing RTW etc on the laptop.

3. The COOL factor - everyone who sees the thing run, especially Keynote presentations, are in awe of the thing and are practically drooling at times! Many keep asking if Keynote is available for the PC and look really disappointed when they find out it isn't.

4. Other pluses are largely the same reasons I prefer any Mac to a PC so I won't bore you here with any of them.

All in all, I am very pleased with my MBP and once I get used to having a laptop as my main computer I am sure I'll like it even more. Great job Apple!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ultra Mobile PC

Intel has announced the Ultra Mobile PC. Does it tell us anything about a future Apple device from Apple? My guess (that's all it is, as I don't have any contacts inside Apple) is that it does. Looking at some of the first products matching the spec may give us a guide to what may be on the horizon from Apple. The Samsung Q1:

Ultra Mobile PC - New Category of Mobile Devices

Samsung’s Q1: A revolution in the digital convergence era slim, sleek and shining through with features, the Samsung Q1 is designed to match the demands for high performance mobile computing and the desire for digital convergence. Featuring fully functional PC power, instant multimedia, car navigation and the latest wireless technologies, all displayed on a stunning 7” touch screen. And at <800 grams, you can take it everywhere and do everything. With the Samsung Q1, it’s not hard to imagine.

With its 7" wide screen it would make a great Video iPod don't you think? Also, its GPs system would be great on an Apple product. I can't wait to see Apple bring its own take on the spoec. In fact, I am going to stick my neck out and predict that Apple will indeed bring out its own UMPC device. My guess is that its minmum spec would be as follows:

1. The ability to download and playback video, music and other mutlimedia files ( a la Video iPod but with a much bigger screen)
2. GPS Nav capability.
3. iLife installed
4. Ability to stream TV and video to the device and from it to TV screens.
5. Minimum storage of 60Gig
6. Touch screen.

When will it come out, I am guessing before Christmas to make it the must have device.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Farewell to a cousin and a faithful friend

This past week has seen the death of one of my cousins and our family rabbit. The former died from cancer in her 50's, the latter from unknown causes. My cousin had been ill for a whiile and it was expected she would die but it still comes as a shock when it happens. The rabbit was fine in the daytime but died peacefully (it seemed from his expression at least) in the night.

Due to the fact that we have seen very little of my cousin (only family funerals ironically) the past twenty years means that the death of our rabbit has had the greater impact of the two. Life is strange like that... the death of a pet being more upsetting than that of a relative. I guess it goes to show that modern life, with so many families living dipersed lives across the globe, means that friends, work colleagues and even family pets can seem closer than family. Sad but true.

The strange thing is that though the rabbit seemed fine all day, running around the garden as usual (he went into his hutch only at night and often came in the house of an evening), he became very calm in the evening, content to sit on my lap for long periods (usually he is up and off after a few minutes). I even, and this is totally not my normal behaviour, allowed my daughter to go to sleep with him on her bed. I took him to his hutch after she had gone to sleep and he seemed ok apart from being unusally thirsty. In the morning I found him stretched out, dead but still warm. I broke the sad news to the family with tears in my eyes (yes I cried) and then buried him at the end of the garden, not far from our three guinea-pigs.

So goes family life and I suppose it helps the children realise that death is part of life. Nevertheless, we miss him deeply. I miss my cousin too. She was a larger than life character and though we saw so little of one another in the past two decades, I will never forget her.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Apple supports Windows on MacTel!

As I predicted in one of my earlier posts, Apple has finally gone ahead and offered to support the installation of Windows on MacTel hardware, to allow dual-booting between OS X and XP.

I think this is a smart move as it will encourage even more switchers and will mean I can now go ahead and buy a Mac laptop and still run those Windows programs I need.

Bill Gates will be pleased I think as he will sell the same or more copies of XP. What you call a win-win situation I think. Expect Apple's market share to increase more rapidly in coming months. Now if only I could afford some Apple shares!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Blogger widget!

There is now a widget available for adding entries to your Blogger site from your OS X Dashboard. Get it from the Apple widget site now. This entry was made using it and its a breeze.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The new Intel based Macs are certainly up to Apple's usual standards.... can't wait for the new G6 [or whatever it will be called)! Hopefully the next Mac Mini will not only combine some cool features but be cheap enough to give it a mass market appeal. How great it would be to see it capable of recording TV al la Sky+.

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