Google Docs Improves the Experience of Exploring Your Files

January 31, 2011

Today Google made an announcement that users of Google Docs will see an update to their Google Docs account that will feature a new document list layout, added filtering features to find your files and; (the really cool part) a preview panel on the right side of the document list, so that you can see a preview thumbnail, your “sharing settings” and more at a glance.

Google Docs

This update hit my Google Docs account today and I have to say I am very, very impressed with the document list layout; and, especially impressed with the document previewing. I have been extensively using Google Docs to get a good handle on the feel of using the included apps, so as to advise the readers of the blog.

As we continue down this road of cloud computing, the only factor that concerns me is the security of our files. If I know Google and their innovative approach of bringing this all together, I look to see some type of security options available to protect our files in such a way to raise our comfort level a little more.

If you want to read the full scoop on the new features to Google Docs,
[ CLICK HERE ]

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Wallpaper of the Week (#2)

January 30, 2011

Here is the wallpaper of the week that I added to my collection titled:

“Mouse vs. Mouse”

Click on the wallpaper image to get this wallpaper!

image

Need wallpaper software to show off your wallpaper collection? Try one of these:

John’s Background Switcher

Walyk Wallpaper Changer

Wallpaper Updater

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Build a Personalized Database in a Snap

January 28, 2011

I have always had a fascination with databases, in that you can store information and readily access that information very quickly. As a matter of fact, just about every facet of internet and computer information storage and retrieval is database driven.

I recently found a really neat program called SnapDB which allows you to build simple, customizable flat-file database that can be used to store and track any type of information that you can think of.  For example, I started using SnapDB to manage a video collection and to track the servicing of my vehicles.  If you never built or experienced a database, this little program is about as easy as it gets. It is also portable app, as well.

How easy is it to build your own database with SnapDB?

[ CLICK HERE ]

to see the “how to” video.

SnapDB

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Is Windows Search a True Performance Hog?

January 27, 2011

Guest Article By:

TuneUp Blog
Tibor Schiemann, President and Managing Partner, TuneUp

One of the most persistent myths about Windows is, disabling the Windows Search index will significantly increase PC performance and reduce hard disk activity. The Windows Search index is a particularly handy Windows 7 tool, so it shouldn’t be casually disabled. Let’s dive deeper into this myth and figure out whether it actually works or not.

First, it’s important to know how Windows Search works. After installing Windows or turning on your PC for the first time, Windows Search creates an index of specific files, folders and other items, such as Outlook emails or Start Menu entries, on your hard disk. This index is loaded into the main memory (RAM) of your PC and fuels extremely fast searches. The way this works is, instead of browsing through your entire hard disk or huge folders, Windows Search simply accesses the index and immediately produces results.

Windows Search is especially helpful for multi-taskers, who are always looking for e-mails or files. It’s important to figure out whether you’ll need the feature because the question about its impact on PC performance is complicated. The easy answer is, yes, disabling Windows Search index results in longer search times. But here’s the caveat—this is only the case for folders that are being indexed. These include the entire user folder, all Start Menu entries, offline files, Outlook contacts, appointments and installed e-mails, installed and used OneNote notes, and Internet Explorer history.

What’s kept inside the index need not be a mystery. You can see how much and what is being indexed on your system by going to the Control Panel and typing “Windows Search” into the search bar. Then, click on Indexing Options, and you’ll see an index that could be quite large (depending on how much data is there). But are you still wondering if shutting down the index is worth the performance benefit? I benchmarked this very question on my day-to-day work machine and will share what I found with you.

Putting the Windows Search Index to the Test

For the test, I used a Core 2 Duo with 3.2 GHz, 4 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD hard disk, as well as a lower-end machine with a Core 2 Duo 1.86 GHz, 2 GB of RAM and a much slower 5,400 RPM hard disk. From here on, I’m going to refer to them as the faster notebook and the slower notebook.

The faster notebook had nearly 40,000 items indexed. However, I added all of the folders on all of my hard disks to the Windows Search index. That should give some noticeable results, as more than 300,000 files were added to this machine. The slower notebook had about 20,000 items indexed, which is closer to the amount of files (such as pictures, emails and documents) typical PC users keep on their computers. My comparisons of these two extremes should help you decide whether it’s a good idea to disable the Windows Search index.

First, I wanted to test the Windows Search index activity and added a couple of hundred files to the slower notebook and about 300,000 files to the faster one; this was to see how much these machines struggled with a growing Windows Search index. And, Windows proved itself—while users are working on their machines, the operating system reduces the indexing speed so that it does not impact PCs’ performance. It didn’t matter if I added 500 or 300,000 files; Windows never slowed down in any perceivable manner—even an average CPU consumption of 10% did not noticeably impact the performance. Here’s a quick summary of what I found:

Quick Summary

Comparing the Time to Startup and Shutdown

But does Windows Search have a significant impact on boot-up and shutdown performance? In theory, it should slow these processes because the service and index need to be loaded into main memory.

To test this, I looked at the times with Windows Search enabled and disabled. Both of the machines actually booted just a bit faster with Windows Search disabled. The faster notebook’s shutdown time more noticeably improved, whereas there was no difference in the slower notebook’s shutdown time whether Windows Search was disabled or enabled.

Quick Summary

Moving on with the tests, I similarly found that there was a very slight difference in performance (with Windows Search enabled and disabled) when running a virus scan—an activity which is very intense on the hard disk and CPU. And again, when testing the startup of Microsoft Outlook 2010; and yet again, when trying out the 3D animation performance benchmark Cinebench. Windows Search turned out to not be such a performance hog after all!

For more on the Windows Search benchmarks and specifics on each test run, visit TuneUp’s blog at http://blog.tune-up.com.

Enabling or Disabling: That Is the Question

Following the tests, I believe that Windows Search actually has an effect on performance—although the feature only slows things down a little bit, more so when it comes to lower-end machines. The myth of Windows Search being a real performance hog originated with Windows Vista due to its search performance issues, and probably just continued on with the Windows 7 operating system.

Not sure which way to go: enable or disable the Windows 7 feature? Users should always enable Windows Search if you need to find files, emails, programs and contacts, among other things, once in a while. But if you heavily rely on faster search, don’t touch it. On the other hand, Windows Search should be disabled, if you just use your machine for one purpose only, like as a gaming or as a Windows Media Center-based PC, if you never search for files, or if you just want to squeeze the very last ounce of performance out of your PC.

Have your own conclusions to share about the Windows Search myth? I invite you to email me at tibor.blog (at) tune-up.com or post a comment to the TuneUp Blog about Windows.

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Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#96)

January 26, 2011

Computers and Information Technology is changing at a rate like never seen before. To keep up with the changes, to protect yourself and to learn about the new technologies; it is important to find good resources. Listed below are the resources I depend on to help keep me touch, that I highly recommend.

Geek Squeaks'

Techpiper
Kompozer -The best free webeditor

Awesome Wallpapers
Star Wars Wallpaper Set 9

My Technology Guide
Microsoft Releases Attack Surface Analyzer Security Tool

TTC Shelbyville
Test If You Can Multi-task

I Want Ice Water
The Trouble With Hierarchies

404 Tech Support
Google Releases Google Cloud Print Beta To The Public

Worthy Tips
How To Know Wi-Fi Information Around Your PC

I Love Free Software
Image Tools: Bulk Image Converter, Resizer, Cropper, Watermarker

Netbook Freeware
Security Process Explorer: Free Windows Task Manager Alternative
for Netbooks

Chicago Mac/PC Support
Cisco: Puppy cams threaten Internet

PC Optimization Secrets
Is Desktop PC Dead?

Malware Removal Instructions
How to remove Windows Scan and Memory Scan (Uninstall Guide)

AKSGEEK Live
Microsoft Release OneNote app for iPhone, free for Limited Time

Online Storage Reviews
Preserving Your Memories Online

Gadgetsholic
MetroPCS Samsung Forte Leaked

Tech-for Everyone
Skype Malware Now Attacks Apple?

Rarst.net
Light-Bot 2.0 – programming puzzle game

Lifehacker
What Are Your Favorite Search Tricks?

TuneUp Blog about Windows
Do Security Solutions Slow Down Your PC? (Part 1 – Introduction)

Paul’s Home Computing Blog
5 Dumbest Things To Do With Email Spam

RGdot
My Calendar: Freeware Calendar And Date Utility

Carol’s Vault
PDFZilla Time-limited Giveaway – Get PDFZilla For FREE!

Faster PC! Clean! Clean!
How to Remove Smart Scan

Plato Online
There’s No Such Thing as Net Neutrality

Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts
Consumer Statistics Survey –
50% Of Computer Users Lost Data In 2010

thePC Security
Automatic Email Attachment Download
From Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and Others

Canadian Tech Blogger
Apple Hits The 10th Billion App Downloaded From App Store

What’s On My PC
What’s starting on your PC?

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Can you buy online storage space from Google?

January 23, 2011

I was recently asked the question, “Can you buy online storage space from Google?”.  The answer is YES.

Google has been generous in providing online storage space for a variety of their FREE products; however, FREE storage space is specific to each product and FREE storage from one product cannot be used by or transferred to another product.  For example:

Picasa Web Albums offers 1 GB of storage for photos and videos only.

Gmail provides 7+ GB (and counting) which is reserved just for Gmail messages.

Docs gives you 1 GB for your uploaded files (documents created in Google Docs and converted files don’t count towards your storage, but do have some size limitations).

If you have a Google Gmail account and are using any of the applications I previously mentioned you can determine how much online space you are currently consuming in any of these applications by clicking on the graphic below:

Manager Storage

Where you can overcome these restrictions, and store it all, is by purchasing additional storage from Google that allows you to share the space between all of your Google applications. As a matter of fact, with the Google Operating System on the horizon, I can see people purchasing additional space; especially if this online operating system takes hold and they come up with their own file syncing tools.

Cost for additional space:

20 GB – $5/yr
80 GB – $20/yr
200 GB – $50/yr
400 GB – $100/yr
1 TB – $256/yr
2 TB – $512/yr
4 TB – $1024/yr
8 TB – $2048/yr
16 TB – $4096/yr

Also from what I have researched, the storage level you purchase is set to auto-renew (or auto pay), by default, at the end of the year. You can upgrade or downgrade the storage level anytime.  If you opt out of the annual auto renewal billing cycle, and let your subscription expire, the following will occur:

After your storage expires (including the 30-day grace period) or after you cancel the subscription, your storage limits will be set back to the free levels for each product. All of your existing data (photos, emails, uploaded files) will still be accessible, but you won’t be able to add anything new for any product over the free storage limit. Here are the specifics:

  • Gmail (7+ GB free storage): If you’re at or beyond your storage limit, all new incoming emails will hard bounce. This means your inbox is full; you won’t receive new email.
  • Picasa Web Albums (1 GB free storage): If you’re at or beyond your storage limit, you will not be able to upload any new photos and videos.
  • Docs (1 GB free storage): If you’re at or beyond your storage limit, you will not be able to upload any new files.

So if you are big on using Google’s applications, as indicated in this article, and want to keep everything under one roof, then purchasing additional space may be feasible [ click here ]; however, keep in mind there other FREE options out there. (i.e. SkyDrive 25GB FREE)

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Wallpaper of the Week (#1)

January 23, 2011

Every Sunday I will be featuring a wallpaper background that I think is keeper.  All the wallpaper images will directly link to the download site where the wallpaper is located; also, there will be a separate wallpaper category link so that you can bring up the collection.

If you know of any good wallpaper sites where I can go fish for wallpaper backgrounds, and look for the best, let me know!

Click on the wallpaper image to get this wallpaper!

image

Need wallpaper software to show off your wallpaper collection? Try:

John’s Background Switcher

Walyk Wallpaper Changer

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Performed Some Site Maintenance – Blogroll Updated

January 22, 2011

After receiving some prompting and prodding I have cleaned up the blogroll somewhat so that the experience is more useful.  Any site that was on the blogroll that had not posted any articles within the past year have been taken off of the blogroll and archived (just in case they become active again).

To my readers out there, if you do not know what a blogroll is; it is a list of other blogs that a blogger (such as myself) might recommend by providing links to them (usually in a sidebar list).  You will find the blogroll here at What’s On My PC on the right side of the blog.

The blogs on my blogroll, which I am most proud to be associated with, are the following.  Take a few moments and hit these blogs. If you visit a site, leave them a comment that Rick from What’s On My PC  sent you. I promise you; you will not regret it.

Site Maintenance

404 Tech Support
AKS-Feel The Change
AKSGEEK Live
AllThatsNew
Appnews.net
Ask A Tech Teacher
AskBillFirst
Awesome Wallpapers
Big Geek Daddy
Blogging Fool
Canadian Tech News Blog
Carol’s Vault
Carputers
Chicago Mac/PC Support
Computer Too Slow
Confessions of a Freeware Junkie
Crazy World of G
Data Recovery Blog
Discobytes
EvilFantasy’s
Faster PC! Clean! Clean!
Free PC Security
Gadgetsholic
Great Free Software Utilities
I Love Free Software
I Want Ice Water
Internet Security Blog
Laptop Computer Reviews
Laptop Reviews Central
Lifehacker
Malware Removal Instructions
Mister Reiner
Mrintech
My Technology Guide
Netbook Freeware
Online Storage
Paul’s Home Computing Blog
PC Optimization Secrets
Plato Online
Rarst.net
RGdot.com
Right On Technology
Scoroncocolo
Snakebytez
Sugarloaf Tech
Tech Thoughts
Tech-for Everyone
Technize.com
Technogran’s Tittle Tattle
Techolar
Techpiper
Teck-Line
thePC Security
Tied Up in the (World Wide) Web
TTC Shelbyville
TuneUp Blog about Windows
Worthy Tips

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Surf Safely with Web of Trust

January 22, 2011

A tool (or browser add-on) that I use on my PC’s, in addition to my normal security software, to help protect me when I am browsing the internet, is no other than Web of Trust (also referred to as “WOT”).

If you use Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera I highly recommend this installation. What it does is protect you from visiting web sites, when performing searches, that may be harmful by using a visual “traffic light simulated”  alert system.  If you see red (potential danger lurks ahead), if you see yellow (use caution) and green (go for it). In other words it is a visual rating system that is engineered to heighten your awareness of what sites are good and what sites could be bad. WOT shows the reputation of a website in terms of four components: Trustworthiness, Vendor reliability, Privacy, Child safety. I install this on any PC that I get my hands on.

I encourage you to watch the video below to see how it works and how you benefit from using the Web of Trust .

Web of Trust Video

You are probably wondering, “Who provides the ratings for all of these websites? AND “If this is a rating system, could not someone manipulate the ratings?”.

WOT’s unique tools are powered by our global community of millions of trustworthy users who have rated millions of websites based on their experiences. All websites’ reputation ratings in WOT are based on ratings from our users. WOT also uses information from numerous trusted sources, such as phishing and malware blacklists, to provide the WOT community with real time information.

When someone first hears about the concept behind WOT, their first objection is that someone could easily spam the system with tons of ratings and rate down their competitors or otherwise manipulate reputations, but that’s not true. In order to keep ratings more reliable, the system tracks each user’s rating behavior before deciding how much it trusts the user. WOT applies sophisticated algorithms to detect and eliminate any manipulation of reputation.

Like any security software there can be what is called “false positives”; however, from my experience this add-on tool is VERY ACCURATE and is a must for the everyday computer user.  You can learn more about the Web of Trust by clicking [ HERE ] .

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Glide Through the News with HuffPost NewsGlide

January 21, 2011

We all have our preferences when it comes to reading the current  news on the internet, whether it  be visiting the news sites directly or reliance on RSS news feeds.

One of my favorite “go to” news sites, is the sometimes controversial Huffington Post. If you are not familiar with the Huffington Post, it is an excellent aggregate news source that provides news in a broad range of categories (such as politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, comedy, news, blogs, and original content). As a matter of fact there is so much news on the Huffington Post that it is hard to keep up with it, until now.

Using current advancements in web page and web browser technology, Huffington Post has come up with an unique “glide type” interface, called HuffPost NewsGlide that makes reading the news ultra fast.

The graphic representation below really does not provide a full visual representation of how HuffPost NewsGlide works; therefore it is best to visit the site to really experience it.

HuffPost NewsGlide

When you visit the site, you will see horizontal visual strips of news stories in different categories. If you have a mouse with a mouse wheel, which is most common these days, you can hover the mouse pointer over one of the strips and rotate the mouse wheel to glide through the various news stories.  If you prefer to not use the mouse wheel, you will see navigation arrows appear on the screen when you place the mouse pointer to the right side of one of the news strips. Once you find a news story that interests you, click on it and the story will load to the right side of the browser window.  Once you are done reading, close the news story and continue gliding.

Features:

Constantly updated
Easy navigation
Scan through the latest headlines
Flip through sections
Quick read articles
Social sharing functions
Pull up article comments in one click

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Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#95)

January 19, 2011

Welcome to this weeks round up of Geek Squeaks’. If you have a passion for information technology and computers, then I invite you to take a look at the articles below that are provided by some of the top blogging sites on the internet.

Geek Squeaks'

TTC Shelbyville
Facebook Apps Allowing Access to Numbers, Addresses

My Technology Guide
Microsoft Mathematics Released for Free Download

404 Tech Support
Covering IPv6 Basics While The Internet Society and Others Announce World IPv6 Day

Awesome Wallpapers
Space/Fantasy Wallpaper Set 41

I Want Ice Water
Large, Dangerous Rocket Ships!

I Love Free Software
CloudCanvas: HTML5 Based Free Online Image Editor

Netbook Freeware
IDriveSync: Sync Netbook Files Online

Worthy Tips
How To Create An ISO Image?

AKSGEEK Live
Steve Jobs take medical leave from Apple

Online Storage Reviews
Understanding different storage media

Malware Removal Instructions
How to Remove Disk Helper, Removal Instructions

Chicago Mac/PC Support
YouTube – Should have used a Mac – Rodney McKay speaks

PC Optimization Secrets
How to Keep Your Computer In Top Shape in 2011

Paul’s Home Computing Blog
Beware of Ransomware!

TuneUp Blog about Windows
Tibor Schiemann Talks TuneUp Utilities – Version 2011

Lifehacker
How to Publish Your Book on Amazon Kindle

Rarst.net
Subdue autorun via command line with WhatInStartup

Tech-for Everyone
Friend of the Internet Surfer Award #5

Gadgetsholic
Samsung Galaxy Ace (S5830) Specifications Revealed

RGdot
JShot: Freeware Screen Capture And Upload

Carol’s Vault
All Must-have Free Apps in One Click: FreeApps downloader

Faster PC! Clean! Clean!
How to Remove Memory Optimizer

Plato On-Line
Mobile Users More Susceptible to Phishing Scams

Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts
A Reader Wants To Know…

Mrintech
Download Windows 7 Arctic and Snow Sports Theme Pack

Canadian Tech Blogger
VLC Media Player Removed From App Store –
Is Apple Censoring Open Source?

Bookmarks4Techs
493 Tech Sites and Growing

What’s On My PC
A Godzilla Collection of Portable Apps

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How did I miss out on the Google Chrome Web Store?

January 17, 2011

I currently use Google Chrome as my primary web browser, more or less, to be part of the continued development cycle of this browser and due to the fact, I just plain love it.

I did see recently, on other sites, information in regards to the Google Chrome Web Store and to be honest I set it aside in my mind, without investigating it further. I was also hearing about Google web apps and again, did not make the connection between Google Chrome and Google Web Apps until last night when I opened a new tab in Google Chrome . It was then I noticed an icon for  theWeb Store.  When I clicked on the Web Store icon that I soon realized how the Google Web Apps and Google Chrome Browser work together.

If you are a Google Chrome user, open up new tab, and click on the Web Store or click [ HERE ] .

The Chrome Web Store is an online marketplace where you can discover thousands of apps, extensions and themes for Google Chrome. To start exploring the store, visit chrome.google.com/webstore or click the store icon in Chrome’s New Tab page.

Once I was in the Web Store, I discovered there are many FREE (yes FREE) web apps being developed. What I was trying to figure out, was how did the web apps work with Google Chrome?  The only way to find out was to install one. After completing the installation, I was on my way of looking for and installing others, and soon discovered, that following the installation of these apps, they were instantly accessible by opening up a new tab in Google Chrome.

Web Store

I do believe these web apps are a glimpse of how applications are going to work in the upcoming Google Operating System.

Keep in mind, the Web Store is something new; therefore the selections of apps are limited at this time; HOWEVER, there are some FREE apps in the store worth installing.  Here are BEST FREE APPS I have found worth installing at this time:

Weather Window by Weatherbug (this one is really cool)

Linoit Web Sticky Service (account required with Linoit)

Time Flip

Scratchpad

Quick Note

I am sure there are more apps to be found and I don’t want to spoil the fun (like hunting for Easter Eggs).

Call me a dummy, but I don’t know how I missed the Web Store and the Web Apps that are a direct connection to the Google Chrome Web Browser.  Have to wonder how many other Google Chrome browser users have not put two and two together?

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An Awesome Web-Based Sticky Notes Service

January 16, 2011

Years ago when I first experienced electronic sticky notes, I thought WOW…  No more paper notes hanging around my computer monitor.  Most electronic sticky note programs require a software installation to work; until now!  As a result of cloud computing, a web-based virtual sticky notes program, called Linoit, was born. After setting up an account (for FREE) with Linoit, you can access your sticky notes anywhere there is internet service. Linoit works directly from your web browser within a moveable “canvas” (where you can use your own background image), which is like a user specific bulletin board-like area. With this Linoit you can even share sticky notes with others.

Linoit

There are so many features and options with this program that I encourage to visit the website [ HERE ] ; HOWEVER, there is one feature with Linoit that I think is really cool. Once you sign up for your account, get the “linoit anywhere” bookmarklet. Click on the “lino anywhere” bookmarklet anywhere, anytime, from any website and if you are signed into your Linoit account, your sticky notes will magically appear (overlay with transparent background) on the the page you are visiting. I can’t say I have seen anything like this with any other cloud computing service.  Also, if you use Google Chrome, you can install Linoit as a Chrome app [ HERE ] .

If you would like to experience Linoit to see what it is like, you can visit Linoit’s public sticky notes “HOW TO” board [ HERE ] .  Kudos to Linoit for making an ingenious web-based sticky notes program.

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Calculate More with the Windows 7 Calculator

January 15, 2011

Most of us who have been around the various versions of Windows are familiar with the calculator that is included with Windows. As a result, we have become complacent and have not noticed that in Windows 7 the calculator is that and a whole lot more.

Windows 7 Calculator

Did you know that with the Windows 7 calculator you can do various unit conversions, such as celsius to farenheit, joules to BTUs, and much, much more?  Also included are templates that can help you compute fuel economy, mortgage payments and even auto lease payments.

How do you find these hidden calculator options?

Pull up the calculator in Windows 7, by clicking on “Start”, “Accessories”, then “Calculator”. Once the actual calculator interface is before you, click on “View” and you will see options for “Unit Conversions”, “Date Calculations”, and “Worksheets”.

Windows 7 Calculator

What are“Worksheets”? Click on it and you will find a hidden dropdown menu surprise that will allow you to calculate “Mortgage”, “Vehicle Lease”, and “Fuel Economy” computations.

Windows 7 Calculator

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Get The Real Scoop On Printer Ink Cartridges

January 14, 2011

I do not think I have to tell you that printer ink cartridges are expensive and that you have options out there to “supposedly” save you money; such as, refilling the cartridge (with a kit), buying recycled cartridges or buying generic brand cartridges.  But, are you really saving money by using any of these options?

Ink. Nozzles. Cartridges

If you want the real scoop on printer cartridges and whether the alternatives out there (as I have indicated) are worth your time and money, then you need to read “Ink. Nozzles. Cartridges” .

This article, “Ink. Nozzles. Cartridges” is from a tech that I have great respect for and I totally agree with his analogy and advice on this subject. You do not see many techs write about printer issues, including  myself, due to the fact we despise printers. They can be hard to troubleshoot, hard to work on and just knowing you get the printer at a cheap price and pay big time in the long haul for ink is a big turn off in my book.

I would like to hear your input on printers and whether or not cartridge refill kits, recycled cartridges or generic cartridges are worth it or not???

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