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Surviving speckles

Also, does your PC support USB? Tech Advisor hed: Surviving speckles dek: also, does your PC support USB? by Stephen J. Bigelow

Q: I’m getting little black speckles on the pages from my laser printer. What’s wrong?

A: The kind of speckling that you’re seeing is often caused by the fusing rollers. When toner is fused to the page, it’s not uncommon for little bits to stick to the roller, but there’s a cleaning brush that’s supposed to wipe away that excess toner and keep the high-temperature fusing roller clean. If the cleaning brush (also sometimes called a wiper) is old or very dirty, it may stop working-allowing those little bits of toner to circle around and be deposited as little speckles on your pages.

The best thing to do is check the user manual for cleaning brush replacement instructions. Power down the printer (allow at least 15 minutes to cool), and locate the cleaning brush. If it’s very dirty or visibly worn, replace it. In many cases, a new brush is included with a new toner cartridge or EP engine (the “drum kit”). This kind of problem is an alert that the printer’s routine service is being neglected.

Q: I’d like to use some of the USB devices that are on the market, but how do I know if my PC supports USB? Also, can I use USB devices with Windows NT or Windows 2000?

A: You basically need two things to support USB: a motherboard (or expansion card) with at least one USB port, and an operating system that supports USB (such as Windows 98/SE, Windows ME, or Windows 2000). Keep in mind that USB is not supported under Windows NT. As a rule of thumb, if your PC was made during or before 1996, it probably doesn’t support USB. If it was made during 1997, it probably supports USB. If it was made during or after 1998, the hardware almost certainly supports USB. Of course, you’ll still need a suitable operating system.

If you can locate the USB port(s) on the back of your PC, take a look at the Device Manager. Under Windows 98/SE, click Start, Settings, and Control Panel, then double-click the System icon and select the Device Manager tab. Look down the device list for the Universal Serial Bus Controllers category. Expand the category, and you should see entries for a “USB hub” and “USB controller.” If you see these devices listed, chances are that you’re ready to plug USB devices into your system. If not, you may need to enable the USB port(s) in your CMOS Setup, then add the necessary drivers to Windows. Otherwise, the system is not USB-compliant.

If you’d like to have more information, you can download a free USB evaluation utility called USBReady directly from the USB.org Web site . USBReady will examine your PC’s hardware and software and inform you of the system’s USB capabilities.

Q: I got an Olympus digital camera for my birthday, and now that I’ve filled up the camera, I can’t download the pictures to my PC’s serial port. I get an error that says “Camera Not Responding.” Any ideas?

A: Digital cameras are usually pretty forgiving when it comes time to download the pictures, but there are some common serial-device problems. Let’s start with the basics. Verify that your camera is using fresh batteries (lithium or nickel metal-hydride), or a suitable AC adapter. If you’re using fresh rechargeable batteries, be sure to charge them for at least three hours before use. Also, double-check the installation of your camera’s memory card.

Before you try downloading pictures, verify that the camera’s latest PC drivers and applet software have been completely installed. This software allows you to download, view, manipulate, and print the images from your Olympus digital camera. For example, Olympus cameras often use Camedia and Adobe PhotoDeluxe software on the camera’s companion CD.

Make sure that your serial cable is connected to a working serial port on the back of your PC. The cable should be secure, and the COM port should be enabled through the computer’s CMOS Setup. If your PC has a 25-pin serial port, install a standard DB25-to-DB9 adapter before connecting the cable. See that the cable is also attached securely (or inserted completely) to the camera. You should now start the software and turn the camera on. This should allow you to download the camera’s contents.

If you still have trouble downloading images, try the camera on another PC or COM port. If it works on another PC or COM port, there may be an issue with the original COM port or its configuration.

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