Sunday, 7 November 2010

Getting the Best Out of Your Computer Inks

Here are some simple ideas for getting the best out of your computer inks.
  • Use the On/Off switch on the front of your printer and keep it off unless you are using it.  Not only is the power cost less but the ink is less likely to dry out.  However, do not turn the power to your printer off as that will result in it going through a cleaning exercise every time it is turned on, which increases power and ink costs. 
  • Unless you really want colour and good quality prints for some reason set your printer to default print in black and printing draft quality instead of high quality.  Black ink is usually cheaper and draft quality uses only about half the ink. 
  • To achieve these two things you have to go into your printer settings to change the default settings as otherwise you have to do it every time you print.  Go to (Windows) >Start >Printers, right-click on your printer and select >printer settings. Now the exact options you’ll see here depend on your printer.  You’ll have to figure out the details yourself.  I’ll use the usual settings for an HP printer as an example.   In the Printer Settings box click on Printer Settings.  There are two changes to make. First, click on the Paper/Quality tab.  On the right hand side under Print Quality open the selection menu and click on Fast Draft.  [On some printers it will be Draft you are aiming for and in others you change the graphic resolution. This option is usually found under >advanced settings.  300 dpi (dots per inch) are usually sufficient for most purposes.]  Secondly, click on the Colour tab. Under Colour Options click on Greyscale and Black Only.  [Whatever your printer those are the choices you want to aim for.]  Click on OK and you're done.  The quality isn't quite as good but it’s not only acceptable but much faster in printing.
  • If you want a first class print job you don't have to reverse the default settings.  Instead when you come to the document or photo you want a colour/first class print from just change the settings for that print job.  To do that when you click on print and the selection panel appears click on Properties next to the name of your printer. Then you’ll again have to figure out the details for yourself.  For an HP printer click on the Paper/Quality tab.  On the right hand side under Print Quality open the selection menu and click on Automatic. Then click on the Colour tab. Under Colour Options deselect Greyscale and click on High Quality. Click on OK and you're done.  
  • There are other changes you might be able to make to your default settings.  You may be able to print several pages on a single piece of paper or you may be able to print on both sides of a page.  Both options can save a lot of ink and even paper.  You can reverse any such changes for any particular print job using the Printer’s Properties as mentioned above.
  • Please remember that if you change your default settings, every print job will be printed that way unless you undo it under your Printer Properties for a particular print job.  If you don’t want that hassle do not change your printer’s default settings.
  • If you want to print just a portion of a page, only print a portion of the page.  Highlight what you wish to print and then on the print selection panel under Page Range click on Selection.  Similarly if you only want one or several page(s) out of a range use the choices available in the Page Range.
  • Sometimes it pays to copy your selection and paste it into a Word document and get rid of bold type headings and the like and even select a font that uses less ink like Arial Narrow, Century Gothic, Garamond or Courier.  Each of those has ranked first in various tests that haven't included the others!
  • Use the print preview function that lets you see just what you are going to be printing before you print it. 
  • Ignore any irritating messages about the ink level or expiry dates for your inks until they show empty but make sure you have a replacement ink on hand.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Google Maps and Google Earth - Quick Help Links

This is a very brief note on the easiest methods of accessing the principal Google Help sites for Google Maps and Google Earth as there is simply too much relevant material for them to be fully explained in an hour or so. Don't be put off by the the fact that there seems to be so much material on the Google sites. It is intimidating but it tends to include a lot of repetition. It is usually, but not always, logically set out. 

Google Maps Help Center - this site not only has links to all the more specialised sites you are likely to want or need but also to the Help Forum and much else. However, at the present time - June 2014 - Google Maps are in a state of transition.  There are "Classic Maps", which many of you will be familiar with, and "new Maps", which some of you might have already.  To make matters even more complicated "new Maps" are not yet universally available in their final form and may only be available to you in a "Lite Edition".  [In my household, with two computers meeting Google's requirements for the "new Maps" full edition, one can access it but the other can only access the Lite Edition".]  In particular in Lite Edition there is no way you can go directly from Google Maps to Google Earth as you could do previously in Classic Maps and as you can do in the full version of "new Maps".  Unless I am missing something Google in its usual arrogant way is quite unhelpful in indicating a timeline for changes or even a helpful page as to the various editions of its Maps and Earth.  Wikipedia does its best to remedy the latter omission but realises its page is incomplete and possibly inaccurate.

To start using Google Maps first open a Google search page by entering "" in the address bar.  Then go to and click on the Apps Icon,  a square of 9 dots in the top right hand corner, and then click on Maps.  That will take you to either "Classic" or "new" Maps.  If you are in "Classic" there is a link to "Help" on the lower left of the page and if you are in "New" there is a link to "Help" through the Question Mark on the lower right of the page.  Either link takes you to the Google Maps Help Center, which is the principal site to assist users. 

You can use Google Maps without a Google account.  However, to create and save your own maps you have to have your own Google account. It is simplest to follow the instructions from the Help pages. Or you can start by opening Google Maps.  Please remember that any map you create will be in the public arena unless you ensure it is unlisted.  There is also a tutorial on creating a map with Custom Maps in  Google Earth Outreach.  There are also numerous independent pages on using Google Maps, and Earth.  Here are three dealing with Maps, a Wall Street Journal piece on the recent changes to Google Maps and two Make Use Of pages dealing with creating new maps and how to use Maps for better planning of your trips.

Google Earth Help Center - this is the principal site to assist users with links to many more specialised sites. To access Google Earth you must download the Google Earth software programme. This can be done through the Google Earth Help Center page or from the Google Earth home page.

Once you have Google Earth installed you can either work through the Google Earth Help Center page or go to the Google Earth Tutorials site from the Learn the Basics page on the Help Center page but that will be a matter of personal preference. You can also access the material on the Google Earth Outreach page, already mentioned.

While the various help videos can be accessed through the different help sites, e.g., Google Earth Tutorials or the Google Earth Outreach page already mentioned or Google Earth Showcase, you can also access some through Google Earth Video Help in YouTube. It is easy to access the individual videos that interest you.

For those of you interested in the ocean depths go to the tips in Navigating in Google Earth, but you will need to access some of the underwater videos for the best images.

For all those interested in an opportunity to try flying on your own computer there is the Flight Simulator entered through Tools – Enter Flight Simulator although its best to first read the tips on using the flight simulator help page.  As they are brief and inadequate you might also like to look at two overlapping blog pages about the tool if you really want to play with it, Google Earth A to Z: Flight Simulator and Google Earth Flight Simulator Tips.

Those of you who enjoy a challenge might want to first work your way through the Basic Features User Guide and then through the individual elements at the foot of that page.

Note: I do not refer in any way to Google Earth Pro as a subscription costs US$400 per annum.

[Last edited 20 June 2014]