Thursday, 28 March 2013

My Ink is too Expensive/I Think my Printer is Broken

HP Officejet 8500 Pro

You can never go a day in a sales associate position in the tech world without hearing “I need a new printer.” Why you ask, because they always break and they are not likely to last past two years. So whether it be now or later, you will be asking yourself what kind of printer you need that is cheap on ink or if you should just go laser.

There are two myths that are around today and that is that laser printers are more efficient than inkjet printers and it is cheaper to buy a new printer than a cartridge. I’d also like to point out that the cost of the cartridge does not reflect the printer you are going to by, or it shouldn’t at least. You need to find out the number of pages within that cartridge. I have seen them range anywhere between 150 sheets per cartridge (SPC) and 2500+SPC. This does hold true for inkjet cartridges. But before we get to these points, we need to determine how much you print to find something that is right for your lifestyle.

There are three classes of printers, in my opinion; 1) home use, 2) business/school and 3) big business. People in education print out a lot and yes, this means students as well. The home use person will print approximately 10 pages per week while the business/school use will print more like 50+ sheets per week. This may not sound like a lot, but it does in fact add up. If you are in the big business category, more than 250 sheets, then you may want to look into higher end printers or re-evaluate your printing because you can create PDF documents in place of paper. Establish where you are and then aim for a cartridge that will last you two months at minimum.

If you are looking for a solid recommendation, I would encourage Hewlett Packard’s (HP) line of Officejet printers, specifically the 8500 series. The black XL cartridge can last up to 2,300 sheets for about $43 CND. This is better than most, if not all, retail store laser printers. They also have the capability to do higher quality prints and have four cartridges. Running one black and three separate colours saves you money down the line. When one empties, you just replace that one. Just a little word of advice; never EVER get a tri-colour cartridge, they just aren’t worth it.

When looking for a printer, do not forget to look for something with a scanner, wireless networking and one that is compatible with mobile devices. The HP Officejet 8500 series printers are all capable of doing this. They may start at about $220 , but they do go on sale as I have seen one go for $149. Before you think that is too much for a printer, you could pay $50 for a printer that does 500 SPC for $30; that simply doesn’t make sense. By the time you spend $120 on ink (about 2000 pages and black ink only), you have now spent $170 on the printer and cartridges also come half full with the original purchase. Going with an HP Officejet 8500 series, you would have spent $190 and have 300 more pages to go. Once you purchase the next cartridge, you will have already saved $80.

I hope you learned a bit about printers with this post. Keep in mind that the price of the printer reflects the cartridge. See below for more tips about printer maintenance and some features you should all have.

The Printer List:
  • Keep your printer turned on, it will help with the life of the cartridge and the printer.
  • Purchase a printer with four or more cartridges.
  • Purchase a printer with wireless and/or wired networking
  • Get something that is compatible with your smartphone and tablets
  • Don’t be cheap, get a good one or you will spend more money than you think.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Oh, Hey Big Purple Elephant

Ok, I know what you have been thinking throughout all these previous posts, when will the issue be tackled, Mac vs. PC. It is simple, what do you use the computer for?

As a consumer, you are probably frustrated, and as a sales associate, I have to ask the question. Mac computers are excellent for video editing, graphic design and, in the past, battery life. The MacBook line has amazing specifications and is sometimes seen as overpriced. Remember that most have great quality parts. I am not saying it is going to last you forever. A computer is a computer and it is mass-produced. In addition, they use the same processors as some PCs do and other technology is now interchangeable. I must say though, if you want a beautiful and breathless quality screen for photo editing and new HD video editing, go with the MacBook pro with Retina Display. It is expensive but worth it to an extent. I should clarify, by photo editing I mean using Adobe Photoshop for more than just the basics and use it literally every day. I have outlined the basics to a Mac, now here is the PC side of things.

PCs are strong computers especially when it comes down to business side of things. They make amazing word processing computers and typically come with more storage than Macs for the price. PCs also have more software available to them when it comes to legitimately free software (freeware). Most of my blogs are based on free software because people need to know it is out there. Why pay for something you will never use?  There are many math-orientated programs designed for PC as well like SPSS, which formulates data from surveys for you. Many programs are also available on PCs such as the Adobe Suite, QuickBooks and Simply Accounting. Business thrives on PCs because of the abundance of available software. Now the next question I usually get is about running PC on a Mac.

This is possible, and there are ways to get Mac on a PC. That is not entirely legal so I won’t be telling you where to get the information for a Hackintosh. Oops, spilt the beans on a common name for a PC with Mac OSX on it. So there are two ways to put Windows on a PC and it is either virtual/parallel or onto the hard drive as an OS directly.

Virtual will be a pain. It is like opening safari but inside the window is a full operating system. Typically this is done to use very minor programs, like all the freeware software I talk about and some business applications. If you install it directly to the hard drive, it is the exact same as running a PC. This is possible because Macs now use hardware like PCs.

Lastly, hardware quality and battery life are now very comparable. This has become a myth over time because PCs have evolved and have introduced Ultrabooks. An Ultrabook is a laptop made with power, portability and battery life in mind. Most of them are similar to Macs in this case. The hardware in a Mac and a PC is very similar. Many PCs and all Macs use Intel processors, which I recommend to everyone because they are more reliable than AMD chips. These processor/chips are the brain of the computer. Other parts are easily swappable between Mac and PC laptops as well. Both systems are also amazing for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations.

Therefore, when looking for a computer, pay attention to what you want to use it for and make the right decision. If it is graphic design, go buy a Mac, if it is for virtually anything else, go buy a PC. If you want to talk about viruses, refer to a previous post of mine, and remember that it is not about viruses anymore, it is about internet security where Macs are equally prone to such threats.

Side note: I honestly don't have a preference, I purchase what I need and I do not do any graphic design or video editing. Just some simple Photoshop, internet surfing and word processing.

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Best Video/Audio Download Tool

Ever wonder how to rip a video from YouTube or just rip the audio. You may use the popular YouTube downloader, but it is very limited. Do you have software to burn a video to a disc or convert your videos directly to iPod/Xbox or any devices format? Well here you go! This is a review of the free software called Freemake Video Converter.

One program and it does many different things. Freemake is the best in my mind. I have used YouTube downloader, but it does not do nearly as much. I use Freemake to convert video to different formats such as avi, mkv or mp4 as well as converting to make it playable over my network and onto my Xbox 360. It is simple to use. It is so simple that you do not need a tutorial on it. I kid you not; it is that simple. If you want to burn to a disc or convert a file, click and drag it into the program and then select what file you want to convert it to. If you are downloading from YouTube, copy the URL and click the “Paste URL” button in the program. If you want to make a video into a music file, do the same thing but convert it to MP3.  

Do not forget to browse for the folder that you want to convert and save it. This box will pop up. If you want it to go straight to iTunes, simply click the “export to ITunes” box and then convert.

Unfortunately, this software is only available for PC for now. Sorry mac lovers, your time will come. You can download it from this website here. Be sure to download the Freemake Video Converter, as it will do almost everything that Freemake offers without the need of everything else.

Now that I taught you how to get music into iTunes from YouTube, you can now enjoy my previous post on creating iPhone ringtones a lot easier. Don't be afraid to use this for your BlackBerry's and Androids. Use Audacity to cut those files. Another tutorial to come in the near future perhaps?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Make Free iPhone Ringtones

Hey everyone! Just a quick tutorial post that goes with the posting coming up. This is for all of you iPhone users stuck with the basic ringtones and ones you have to buy. Have fun making your own!

Friday, 8 March 2013


Ok, now that I got your attention I am going to say why your data on your computer is not safe. I don’t mean it is being hacked or someone has access to it. I am talking about backing up your information properly.

So I was checking out some blogs before I wrote this one, this doesn't happen often because I've been through many scenarios in my retail and personal days. I came across Scott Hanselman’s Blog and liked his rule of three…a little bit. First of all, I respect his post and you should take his advice as it is valid. Secondly I have my own rules I like to go by.

  1.  A back up is not stored only one device/computer.
  2. Rate how important it is and decide what the best method to back it up on is.
  3. If it is that important, back it up on MULTIPLE devices (two computers do not count).
  4.  Don’t cheap out! It is your information so keep it safe.

Forms of back up
  1. Cloud storageInformation that is stored on the internet on a server that has security built in. Some you have to pay for, others are free and some are both (depending on the size).
  2. External Hard drive (HDD)
    It has moving parts and is generally connected to your computer via USB. This is ideal for big items as they range from 500GB to 3TB, on average.
  3. USB Stick/Flash Drive
    A small device running that is not mechanically driven. They are small in size and memory. They can be considered more reliable than external HDDs but you don’t get your bang for your buck in terms of memory size.
  4. Disc Storage (DVD)
    There are different types of disc storage (CD, DVD and Blu ray). DVD is the most common and holds 4.7GB per disc. They can cost as little as 20 cents per disc and are not electronic. They are small in capacity size and hard to physically store sometimes.

What to back up to?

It really doesn't matter what you use to back up. Just realize that it is good to have different forms for your important information. Here is what I do:

Pictures, family movies, Microsoft office files (important files), and any other very important/irreplaceable information – DVD, External HDD, Cloud storage (
  • Just pictures – DVD, 64-128GB flash drive, cloud storage
  • Just movies – External HDD
  • Just office documents and small files – 8GB flash drive, DVD

Movies to me are not that important because they can always be re-downloaded or ripped from DVD and Blu rays (see other blog post for how to rip DVDs). But for the cost of my internet per month and a hard drive, one back up wouldn't hurt. All my important information is backed up three times because it is important.

I hope you find this blog post insightful and getting you to think about backing up your information. I have seen too many people rely on external storage as a primary drive and have it fail. Technology is not full proof, KEEP A BACKUP!

Oh, before you go, look at my friend Deanna's blog, she gives great insight on money management for students. Some of it relates to everyone as well. She gives great tips as I refer to her quite often.