Duplex This!

Today at 2:59 p.m. I was asked to come take a look at one of our printers. “It’s jammed pretty badly”, the librarian said. I walked out to find tray 2 laying on the table and 1/2 a sheet of paper, minus a corner hanging out from the tray slot. I say minus a corner, because the corner of the paper had been ripped of when someone tried to yank the paper out backwards from the printer. HP Printers, actually most printers, don’t like you running the paper backwards through the paper path. I opened up the printer and removed the toner cartridge, lifted the access panel and gently pulled the sheet of paper forward through the paper path to remove it. Because this printer has a duplexer I knew I would have to clear the previous sheet of paper from the duplexer as well. So I turned the printer a little more than it was and as I reached to remove the duplexer I stopped in horror. The right side plastic housing of the duplexer had a huge crack in it. The rear access door was hanging by its springs, and the top spring loaded paper guide was wedged down as far as it could go. I stood there for a moment staring blankly at the carnage. I then gingerly removed the poor abused piece of equipment from the printer and held back the urge to use it to club any person in the immediate vicinity. I then reseated the toner cartridge, closed the top, and reset the printer and carried the poor victim of senseless idiocy back to my desk. On the way I stopped by the reference desk to proclaim the loss of a dear friend.

Somehow I don’t think they quite understood. 😦

After a few moments of silent anguish, I called the hardware person to see if there was any chance she had a replacement duplexer. As luck would have it she thought she did. I was then informed I could pick it up tomorrow. I returned to my regular duties in somber fashion often pausing to contemplate the many ways one could avenge the untimely and barbaric death of a duplexer. After a passing examination my brilliant co-hort deduced that the poor hapless duplexer had most likely been dropped. Reexamining the extent of the damage I agreed. I placed the poor creature back on a shelf unwilling to confine it to the murky depths of the trash can.

As the day passed on and I sat working late a madness swept over me. A charge was building in the air, and with the near perfect timing of a windows XP BSOD I was unleashed. I swooped upon the poor lifeless duplexer, tools in hand muttering to myself “WE CAN REBUILD HIM!!!” Lets see… Remove this screw… and those 5… this housing comes off…
Lay that piece there… carefully now….
…Another screw and the next layer of mechanics gingerly released to reveal to my relief a control board in perfect physical condition.
A little prying here, and this housing comes off…
A little pressure there.. and there… and that paper guide releases…
I worked like a creature possessed… Never before had I seen the inner workings of this device… yet my hands felt guided by the gods of technology, unwilling to let this duplexer fall to the wayside…
a few more tabs released and the final housing came off revealing the bent and twisted carnage of the frame that once supported the gears, motor and other mechanics…
I turned to the tool of last resort… the mighty hammer of punishment… surly this will help…
carefully I applied just the right impact in just the right places…
with my pliers I reformed the corners responsible for holding the rear door hinge in place…
My hammer carefully removed the dents preventing the upper paper path from moving…
The motor and gears realigned…
The frame once again took its original shape…
Carefully I bent and tweaked metal until the frame resembled its original state…
Then every so carefully, piece by piece I reassembled the patient… Screw by screw the various parts were returned to their original places…
A little cleaning fluid here, a wipe down there and the rubber paper rollers returned to their original texture, no longer did they posses the shine of ground in paper dust.
Six more screws and the operation was concluded.

Now… the moment of truth… I solemnly made my way towards the printer. Preying that this poor soul had been able to make a trip back form the netherworld…

I powered down the printer…

I turned the printer 90 degrees so that I could better see the gaping cavity in which the duplexer should reside.

I carefully and cautiously inserted my patient into its home. With no undue resistance the duplexer slid into place with a satisfying *click*.

I powered on the printer…

The seconds of the power on self test moved by at a snails pace… Each second feeling as if it had been a century passing by…

Finally the display read the words of hope… “Ready”

I clicked the print button on the nearest workstation and held my breath…

With a *whirr* the printer came to life, drawing the paper from its bottommost tray. I listened, picturing in my mid the path of the paper as it wound its way up through the drum, through the fuser into the duplexer. A *click* and the duplexer sprang to life flipping the page over with perfect accuracy. It fed it back into the drum and back through the fuser to emerge moments later a fully duplexed page.

Fearing this was but a taunt I quickly printed 10 more pages… Each page duplexed as if it was the 1st page ever printed. Only one final touch remained a badge of honor, a signal of the courage of this poor victim of senseless destruction. I ever so carefully placed a band-aid over the crack in the case.

I returned the printer to its resting place and rejoiced. SUCCESS!!!

Advertisements

Movie fest

I watched entirely to much TV this weekend. I watched a number of DVDs via the DSM320, and I watched a couple movies on cable. One of the movies I watched was a bad disaster movie on Sci-Fi. it was called “Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York“.

Wow was it bad. I feel bad for Micheal Ironside, what in the world made him think this was a picture he wanted to act in.

I think I need to get a copy of this cheese fest, invite people over, to see if we can MST3K the heck out of it. Does anyone think this might be fun?

Before you answer let me list and explain a few importnat lessons I learned from this movie, lessons tat may someday save you life:

  • If your house fills up with lava and kills your dog, don’t open the door. Seriously, they let you watch a guys house fill up with lava through a window, Huh, I didn’t know drywall, glass, and wooden doors could contain lava.
  • A cheap looking ‘sports coat’, when worn by Micheal Ironside is impurvious to fire. One scene they show him set on fire running around screaming, a few minutes later his coat shows absolutly no fire damage.
  • When you find that you are in an eruption of lava, keep your eyelids closed, it will save your eye. In the same fire as above , Michal Ironside gets engulfed in flames shot out by lava errupting, later his face is show burned on one side ala phantom of the opera, yet remarkably, his eye on that side of the face is perfectly fine.
  • Metal sewer ladders do not transmit heat when swollowed by lava. The heros climb a metal ladder while lava races past them below, the bottom of the ladder is submerged in the lava, yet the rest of the ladder doesnt heat up or melt at all.
  • Lava is vindictive and will grab your ankles whenever given the chance. The token hispanic guy meets his end when a fissure opens up in the ground and he falls. He falls, landing with not much more than his ankles hanging over the fissure, yet some unseen force grabs him and drags him down into the river of lava.
  • In lava everyone can hear you scream. Token hispanic guy, as he falls into the fissure of doom is heard to be screaming as the lava presumably drags him away.
  • Lava will not melt metal if it has something better to do. Throughout the movie the lava was seen to be contained, or otherwise redirected by the use of metal. In the end of the movie the lava is seen to be flowing out into the ocean via corrugated metal sewer drains. Thank god lava is so easily contained.
  • New York (filmed on location in Canada) suburbs have the largest number of manhole covers per house in the world. In the scene before the man is swollowed by his lava filled house, the manholes burst from the street in front of his house. There must have been at least seven manholes that shot open in front of his house.
  • Lava can easily be outrun by heros. Numerous times the two primary heros were able to esacpe the flow of lava by running away. In fact they were so fast they often had time to stop and kiss while waiting for the lava to catch up so they could run again.

Lounge Lizard

Yesterday I took a plunge and made a purchase. Very fiscally unresponsable of me I suppose. Although in my defence I have been contemplating this purchase for well over a year, and my desire had not deminished at all. What did I purchase? I purchased a “D-Link DSM320“. For those of you who do not know immediatly what that is… It is a media player device for your home entertainment center. Years ago I built my own device that had nowhere near the features this does, and quite frankly has gotten way to clunky. I toyed with the idea of building another unit, but this prebuilt won out.
The first thing I had to do was to find and install a linux uPNP media server. The device itself comes with windows software which doesn’t do me much good. After a little research I decided to actually buy a licence for “TwonkyMedia” server from TwonkyVision. (They offer a trial version which I did download and test before actually setting up the DSM) The install went very well, and was one of the most simple installs I have ever perfomed on a linux box. After the install completed I pointed my web browser to the configuration page and ran through the options. I sepcified the location of all my various media files in doing so I also included the album directory for my photo gallery. This proved to be a very bad idea.
The problem that arose stems from Gallery making 3 copies of an image for each image loaded. At some point over 9,000 pictures TwonkyMedia server croaked. I then hit upon the idea of of creating symlinks for just the full size original images figuring that this would greatly reduce the number of images shown. This remedy also gave me the added opportunity to do a little reorganizing of my photos. After a few minutes of testing I discovered that twonkey was quite happy to read symlinks to the original images. So I proceded to create a directory structure and symlinks. The tough of manually creating a symlink for each of my thousands of photos made me ill. “Why do it manually when I know it can be done faster and easier some other method?” That some other method came in the form of the “find” command. To make sim links for each new category, I only had to enter the following command in each new directory to automatically symlink to each and every image.
find /path_to_gallery/album_dir/some_album/ -name "DSC?????.jpg" -exec ln -s {} ;
The find command went and located every images named DSC that had 5 characters and ended with .jpg. Find then ran the ‘ln’ program to create a symlink in the current directory using the existing file name. Once I did that for all the images I wanted to have visible on the media center I had Twonky rescan the directories when it finished it listed 6885 pictures served. A quick check by typing ls -lR |grep .jpg | wc -l in the root of the symlink photo gallery directory confirmed this to be the correct number.
The next step was to actually setup the D-Link itself. I initally was going to use it in wired mode, but I didn’t feel like making the trip to the basement to the patch panel to make the network jack behind the TV active. (Yes, I’m that lazy) Besides, I figured the D-Link has wireless so I might as well try it out. After plugging the D-Link into the Video2 inputs on my stereo reciever I pressed the D-Link power button and watched it go through its boot routiene. After booting it presented me with a straight forward series of wizards to setup the unit. The controls were at times a little less than intuitve, but I managed without much difficulty to add in my SSID and WEP Key. The system defaulted to DHCP which was nice, and prevented me from having to manually enter the IP configuration. I hit the “next” button and waited for the D-Link to connect. It failed. A few puzzled seconds later it occured to me that I had not added the D-Link’s wireless card’s MAC address to my MAC filter on my access point. 10 minutes later, after muttering under my breath as to why I would have chose such an irritating and equally hard to remember password for my access point, I had the D-Link added. I then let it try network connections again, and this time it recieved an address and was pingable from the other machies on the network. It then presented me with a “Searching for Media Servers” screen and there it sat. After about a minute the D-Link presented me with an “Unable to find any Media Servers” message. I remebered reading in the Twonky FAQs that if this happened I would probably need to add a multicast route to the server hosting the TwonkyMedia server.
Dreading the fun of playing with routing information I dove into yast and suprizingly a few minutes later had managed to add the route. (You have to use 0.0.0.0 for gateway or it won’t add a multicast) So I tried the search for servers option again, and after a minute or so it once again failed. This time however the client did show up in TwonkyMedia as a client however so there was some communication going on. I then went to the clients page on TwonkyMedia servers configuration screen and added the IP addres fo my D-Link to the list provided for just such an ocassion. I restarted the search on the D-Link and again it failed. This time I decided to reboot the D-Link under the assumption that perhaps something wasn’t qute right in the networking setup. When the D-Link rebooted it phoned home, and then asked me if I would like to update its firmware. I figured it couldn’t hurt and I clicked yes. About three minutes, and two progress bars later the D-Link asked to reboot. I let it. After the reboot finished I returned to the configure screen and again told it to search for servers. It immediatly found “WohlersHome” and a couple clicks later I was presented with a menu of all of my available media.

So far I have had no problems with audio, and only one video refused to play. The video was encoded at a VERY high bitrate thoguh, so I assume that is becasue of the use of the wireless connection and switching to wired should solve that. (That or I could just re-encode the video to a little lower bitrate) Photo slides shows have been fantastic, and I have no complaints there. Overall I am delighted with my purchase and the ease of install in my complicated network.

Dread

Well, today I got up, as I do most mornings. This morning however as I was getting ready I had an overall feeling of dread overcome me. I could feel it nipping at the sides of my mind no matter how hard I tried to dismiss it. I continued my morning just as I do every morning. The dread continued. I headed on to work, and the closer I got to work the worse it got. Of course I stupidly assumed it was just me. By the time I pulled into the parking lot I felt like I was going to vomit. I made my way into the library and what do I see but black screens everywhere. An ocassional “Access Denied” message on a random computer that had actually booted and attempted to login. I also see my boss frantically trying to get the circulation desk to operate. Sigh… that explains the dread…

Firewall

Well, Gabbi, Dave and I went to see Firewall tonight. I was plesently surprised. I expected another “oh I’m a hacker” watch me do cool things just by clicking twice on a screen. It wasn’t terribly off it’s rocker for technology. They also didn’t use a floppy disk to hold gigabyets of data. 🙂 I noticed the actuall real screen shots of Cisco IOS, and Windows XP. There were a few others too that looked familliar. There were one or two silly tech blunders but overall, for Hollywood it wasn’t to bad. I did call a “deus ex machina” about 20 minutes before they used it. Spoiler: It has to do with the dog.
There were a couple of non tech DUH moments where we wanted to reach up and slap Harrison Ford’s character for missing obvious outs to the situation, but I suppose placed under the strees that he was, I wouldn’t think of them either.
I’m curious as to the point of the list of Tea’s on the whiteboard in one office. “Green Tea”, “Earl Grey”, and a few others I couldn’t make out fast enough. There was a second list on the board too, but I couldn’t catch what it was for either.
OH, and this movie was compleetly sponsered by Dell. The number of product placements were insane.
I’d also like to point out that the number of servers in use by this bank would make Citibank jelous… I’m guessing it was shot on location in a webhosting center or something. I didn’t see it mentioned in the credits.

Overall it was an enjoyable movie. My biggest complaint was that it felt as if it just stopped. As if the studio said.. “Oh… whooops we ran out of money… Just stop it right there, that will do fine. No one will notice if we don’t resolve a bunch of things.”

[spoiler alert]
Continue reading