The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 077 05/04/08


Throwaway Printers

I have an ancient Epson inkjet printer, which now only show three flashing red warning lights. Some time ago I read about someone who had been told that Epson printers only printed 2000 sheets then stopped working, permanently. This assertion was strongly denied by Epson and an appropriate solution was given to set things going again, but could it be true? I have a dozen or more ink cartridges so I would like to continue to use my faithful old printer for a little while longer.

Bruce Carter, by email


The 2000 sheet story is a bit far fetched but it is true that low cost consumer inkjet printers tend not last very long. Three to five years is about the best you can hope for in my experience.


The most frequent cause of failure on Epson models is a saturated mop-up sponge -- due to the printer exceeding a certain number of cleaning cycles. The pad can be replaced, though this can be expensive. There is simpler (unapproved) solution, though, which is to reset the counter responsible using the free SSC utility (http://www.ssclg.com/epsone.shtml) that I mentioned last year in connection with resetting Epson ink cartridges.


Otherwise failure is usually due to a blocked or dried out print head. This can happen if the printer is not used regularly, so it’s a good idea to run a print job at least once a week. Otherwise it could be caused by dodgy refill ink or ‘compatible’ cartridge. Either way the result is usually the same, a dead printer.


At one time or another I must have tried all of the remedies you’ll find on the Internet, including specialist cleaning cartridges, removing and soaking the head in distilled water, methylated spirits, window cleaning fluid etc. Once in a while a radical procedure has unblocked a few jets, enough to produce some whiskery prints, but it usually short-lived. Getting the head changed is not an option as this usually costs more than the printer is worth and on some Epson models the heads are ‘coded' to the printer so swapping a head from another printer doesn’t work. It’s a sorry state of affairs but home inkjet printers are ridiculously cheap, not much more than a set of ink cartridges so they must now be regarded as semi-disposable items.



Block Buster

One of my regular email contacts has recently had PC problems. My problem is that all the emails that my friend sends to me go straight to the Deleted Items folder instead of my Inbox. I have checked my Message Rules and can confirm that I have no rules set up. Could this be a problem at the sender's end?

Colin Kirk, by email


I don’t think so. Your friend’s address has probably been inadvertently added to the Outlook Express Blocked Sender’s List. You can remove it by going to Tools > Message Rules > Blocked Senders. There are at least two ways names can get onto the list; if you right-click on the sender's email address the option is on the drop down menu that appears, and it’s easy to click on it by accident. ‘Block Sender’ is also on the Message menu in an open email window, and again, a careless click or slippery mouse movement is all it takes.



Lengthy Login

I am the only user on my PC, which runs on Windows XP Home Edition.  When I boot up I am obliged to click my name icon for Windows to load. Is there anyway to avoid this please?

Peter Campion, by email


There is and as long as you have never set up a password all you have to do is go to Start > Control Panel > User Accounts, click ‘Change the way users log on and off’ and uncheck ‘Use Welcome Screen’. Remember, only use this method if you definitely haven't set a passord as you could get locked out of Windows!


The other, slightly more involved method is to go to Run on the Start menu and type ‘control userpasswords2’ (without the quotes) and click OK. In the dialogue box that opens select the account you want to make the primary logon, then uncheck ‘Users must enter a username and password to use this computer’. Click Apply, confirm the action, or enter your password and click OK



Change for the Worse

I am from the old school and learnt touch-typing 50 years ago, so I don’t look at the screen or the keyboard when using Microsoft Word for copy typing. Sometimes, not all the time, I must hit a key in error, and when I look up at the screen, I find the type has turned red. I try to delete the type but nothing makes it alter. I have tried highlighting and changing ‘font colour’ but to no avail. It is driving me up the wall and no one has been able to help in the ICT support staff department at the Education Authority in which I am employed!  

Sally Harrison, by email


It sounds to me as though you have switched on ‘Track Changes’. This is a fairly obscure feature in Word, not enabled by default. It highlights the text that you have added or changed in a document by colouring it red. Text marked for deletion also turns red, with a ‘strikethrough’. The Track Changes switch is on the Reviewing toolbar. If it isn’t displayed go to View > Toolbars and put a checkmark next to Reviewing on the drop-down menu. The Track Changes icon is sixth from the right, clicking on it toggles the feature on and off.





© R. Maybury 2008 1703


Search PCTopTips 



Digital Life Index

Houston 2006

Houston 2007

Houston 2008


Top Tips Index

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Internet & Email

Microsoft Word

Folders & Files

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy & Security

Imaging Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities

Sound Advice

Display & screen

Fun & Games

Windows 95/98/SE/ME








 Copyright 2006-2008 PCTOPTIPS UK.

All information on this web site is provided as-is without warranty of any kind. Neither PCTOPTIPS nor its employees nor contributors are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any of the information contained herein.