Black Print Problems on HP Designjet 1050C (Solved)

Written by Richard on May 1, 2014 Categories: Tech Support Tags: ,

This year my Designjet 1050C developed a strange issue with printing black. Whenever I tried to print something it would start printing fine then mid-way through the print the black would start fading until it printed no black whatsoever. It then threw a ‘black printhead failed’ error.

I went through the printhead replacement routine, taking the black printhead out, cleaning the contacts then seating it back in again. The printer then went through a printhead alignment process after which it spit out the following page which shows that the problem hasn’t been resolved.

Black print problem on designjet 1050C

Black print problem on printhead alignment

Designjet 1050C showing fading black

Test page showing fading black

I thought that the problem was indeed a failed black printhead so I purchased a new black printhead. The printer worked absolutely fine for two weeks but then developed exactly the same problem.

I then took a look at the tubes in the back of the printer (at the rear of the end with the print cartridges in). I noticed that the ink in the black tube was incredibly low:

Ink tubes of Designjet 1050C

Ink tubes in Designjet 1050C

This then pointed to a pressure problem. I did an ink system and pressure test using the service menu but all tests passed OK.

It turns out that the problem was actually caused by a perforation in the bag that is inside the ink cartridge. Air is pumped in to the ink cartridges which squeezes the bag of ink inside and pushes ink through the tubes. Clearly this was not happening so the situation I was in meant that as the tube was full of air, the printhead must also be full of air. What I had to do to solve the problem was:

  1. Suck the air out of the black ink line using a small tube inserted into the black ink point in the carriage assembly (similar to siphoning fuel from a car)
  2. Replace the black ink cartridge with a new one
  3. Run the printhead setup routine with new setup printheads to ensure proper ink flow to the printheads (the HP part number is C6071 – 60167 and they cost about £30 from eBay)
  4. Install a new black printhead

Once I’d gone through the above steps the printer worked fine, and has been ever since. Problem solved!

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Google Play Store on Ubislate 7ci

Written by Richard on April 25, 2014 Categories: Tech Support Tags: , ,

I am the proud owner of a couple of Ubislate 7ci tablets from Datawind. The Ubislate 7ci is a great little low-cost (£30) WiFi tablet that runs Android 4.2.2. I realised that being a low-cost tablet it would take a bit of tinkering, and integration definitely wouldn’t be as simple as it would be with more expensive tablets like the iPad. I was quite disappointed that on the older 7ci Google Play Store threw an error every time I tried to download an app. On the newer 7ci Google Play Store wasn’t even available. Coming from an Apple background I was surprised to learn that not all Android devices are actually compatible with the Google Play Store. So I set about finding a workaround; how was I going to get Google Play Store on Ubislate 7ci ?


I found a neat little APK downloader app written by the guys at Evozi that allows you to download free apps from the Google Play Store.


I then saved the APK installer files to a network location which I then accessed on the Ubislate 7ci by using the ES File Explorer File Manager app. Of course you’ll have to somehow install this app before using it to browse your network location in order to install more apps, so I suggest downloading the ES File Explorer APK using the APK downloader, putting it onto a microSD card then plugging it into your Ubislate 7ci and installing it that way.

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Quick Pitta Pizzas

Written by Richard on April 24, 2014 Categories: Food

This recipe makes enough quick pitta pizzas for 3 people and takes roughly 20 minutes to make (10 minutes preparation and 10 – 12 minutes cooking time).

Pitta Pizza with Cheese.jpg

A pitta pizza with cheese


1 x pack of 6 cracked black pepper / garlic pitta breads
1 x small carton of passata
1 x pack of sliced pepperoni
1 x pack of sliced salami
1 x large red bell pepper
1 x large white onion
1 x pack of cheese of your choice
1 x spinach / leaf salad mix (as optional garnish or side salad)
Olive oil for vegetarian option



  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6.
  2. Finely chop the onion and place into a bowl.
  3. Coursely chop the red pepper and place into a bowl.
  4. Place the pitta breads onto baking trays. If you’re making the vegetarian option then place a small drop of olive oil onto each pitta and rub to the edges using the back of a spoon in a circular motion. This is not necessary for the normal recipe as the meat contains enough oil to prevent the pitta from burning.
  5. Place a small drop of passata onto each pitta and spread to the edges using the back of a spoon.
  6. Place 4 slices of pepperoni onto each pitta if using small slices. If using large slices then only use 2 slices. Skip this step to make the vegetarian option.
  7. Place 4 slices of salami onto each pitta if using small slices. If using large slices then only use 2 slices. Skip this step to make the vegetarian option.
  8. Scatter some slices of red pepper onto each pitta.
  9. Scatter some slices of onion onto each pitta.
  10. Grate your cheese of choice onto each pitta.
  11. Place in the center of the preheated oven for 10 – 12 minutes (check after 10).
  12. Garnish and serve!


Pitta Pizza with Salad.jpg

A pitta pizza with leafy spinach garnish

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Pimp My Packard: A Laptop Upgrade Project – Part 1

Written by Richard on September 9, 2012 Categories: Uncategorized

I recently came into the possession of an antiquated HP G5000 laptop which I thought would be an ideal candidate for a laptop upgrade project, partly because it was so low-spec by today’s standards and partly because I just love the shape of it! My aim was to make it as usable as I could for as little as possible. The initial specifications were:

Processor: Intel Pentium Dual Core T2130 1.87GHz
Memory: 1024MB (2 x 512MB)
Hard Drive: 120GB 5400RPM SATA
Graphics: 128MB Shared Intel GMA 950
Display: 15.4″ WXGA High Definition Brightview 1280 x 800
Wireless: 802.11b/g
Dimensions: 25.9 cm (D) x 35.7 cm (W) 4.4 cm (H)
Weight: 3.1 kg (6.8 lbs)
Battery: 4400MAh 6 cell (faulty)
OS: Windows Vista Premium 32-bit

During testing I found that the battery was faulty and the laptop would only work when plugged into AC. The original installation of Vista Premium had corrupted so I booted into the restore partition and did a fresh install of Windows. During the install I found the fan incredibly noisy, suggesting that either components were producing more heat than normal, there was a build up of dust, or that the processor fan was worn. Once the install had completed I loaded Windows and removed all the additional applications that HP thought was a good idea to bundle in with the OS. When that was done I performed a cold boot. The laptop took a rather underwhelming 1 minute 31 seconds from hitting the power button to getting to the desktop. I also noticed that occasionally the touchpad would have a couple of crazy seconds where it thought that it was smaller than it actually was. A Synaptics driver re-install did not resolve the issue. So I jumped onto Ebay…

Time Until Desktop (Cold Boot): 1:31.8
Fan: Noisy
Battery: Faulty
Touchpad: Intermittent

Concentrating on reliability, usability and weight I purchased the following components:

New Kingston SSDNow V+100 96GB SATAII SSD HDD  -  £46.01
2 x 1GB SAMSUNG DDR2 667MHz SO-DIMMs  –  £10.82

Now this SSD hard drive is a MLC or multi-level cell SSD so would never be as fast as a SLC (single-level cell) SSD however it is less expensive, and I believe that the money that I have spent is safe with a brand like Kingston. Here are the Product Specs for Kingston SSDNow V+100 SSD drive.

Kingston SSDNow 96GB

Popping open the memory & hard drive covers on the back of the laptop I found a lot of dust so broke out the hoover. Installing the SSD was as simple as removing the old hard drive from the caddy and plopping the new one in. Same with the memory- just a straight swap. Now that I had the covers off I continued to remove the whole base by unscrewing all the screws and gently teasing it off. Once removed I hoovered all the dust that had collected in the processor fan and heatsink.

Once I put it back together rather than cloning the old HP restore partition onto my new SSD and installing Windows from there I chose to install a vanilla copy of Windows Vista Home Premium x86 SP2 and just type my product ID in from the COA sticker on the back of the laptop. This way I avoided installing all the bundled HP apps. Driver installation was a doddle thanks to HP’s Software & Driver Downloads page.

Windows installed and configured blazingly fast thanks to the new SSD. The processor fan was also much quieter thanks to a) being free from dust, and b) the SSD drive producing less heat when compared to the old spindle drive. I timed the boot from hitting the power button to usable desktop which took an impressive 40 seconds (only)!

Time Until Desktop (Cold Boot): 0:40.4
Fan: Quieter
Total Spent: £56.83

I still have a couple of things to do, at the moment the laptop makes a very usable, impressively fast workstation. To improve the mobility I would like to purchase a 12 cell battery and a replacement touchpad. I know the 12 cell will be incredibly heavy compared to a 6, but I am prepared to trade off weight for a longer battery life. Still to do for part 2:

Touchpad: Replace
Battery: Replace

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American Blend Peach Pipe Tobacco Review

Written by Richard on September 1, 2012 Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

American Blend Peach Pipe Tobacco

On opening my new 12gms pouch of American Blend Peach pipe tobacco I’m hit by a pleasant mix of expensive chocolates and peach liqueur. The scent is not dissimilar to that of entering a Lush Cosmetics store (albeit less intense). Very slightly artificial but I think it compliments the tobacco well.

Dark in appearance and coarsely cut, it packed well into my greedy briar. It burned well and stayed lit without relights however when reaching the bottom of the bowl gurgled slightly and left a small puddle. Successive bowls produced a small amount of gurgle and puddles regardless of how intensely the bowl was puffed. This however was at the very end of the bowls and didn’t effect my enjoyment of the tobacco.

The peach was apparent even though on my first bowl my pipe was slightly ghosted by an earlier bowl of Clan Aromatic. Successive bowls brought through the intensity of the peach. Enthusiastic puffing did result in a bit of tongue bite, but this was at the very end of the bowl. The taste developed over the course of the bowl with the peach becoming less intense as the tobacco diminished in the pipe.

Overall Rating
Overall I give American Blend Peach pipe tobacco a 4 out of 5. Trial and error will tell if you can avoid the puddle at the end of the bowl and as such may not be the best choice for beginners. If starting on this tobacco use a dedicated pipe and take it S-L-O-W.

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Auld Kendal Strawberry Hand Rolling Tobacco Review

Written by Richard on  Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

Auld Kendal Strawberry Tobacco Pouch

Visiting my local tobacconist this afternoon I stumbled, quite by accident, across this little gem. This is Gawith Hoggarth Auld Kendal Strawberry hand rolling tobacco. Twelve grams cost me £4.25 from Candy n Cards in Waterlooville (023 9225 5637).

Opening the pouch you are instantly hit with a sickly, pleasantly pungent strawberry liqueur.

Auld Kendal Strawberry Tobacco

The tobacco is very light in colour and incredibly finely cut. Ideal moistness, forming clumps if pressed.

Rolled into a cigarette the strawberry becomes subtly apparent on exhale. There is a slight after taste of artificial sweetener, similar to that experienced after drinking a sugar free drink, which is not unpleasant although not entirely pleasant. In hindsight I realise that this tobacco may contain aspartame.

Overall Rating
Overall I would give this tobacco a 4 out of 5. I would have given it a 5 if it wasn’t for the aspartame after taste.

Gawith Hoggarth:
Candy n Cards: 023 9225 5637

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SOLVED: GP Dynamics (v5) User Already Logged In

Written by Richard on July 3, 2012 Categories: Tech Support Tags: , ,

I had a case quite recently where a GP Dynamics (version 5) user was locked out because for one reason or another their previous Dynamics session hadn’t closed down properly and the system thought that they were still logged in. When they tried to log in, after selecting the company to log in to they received the error message ‘User already logged in’.

This was a standalone Dynamics system running on Btrieve (yeah, before they moved to MSSQL) with only one user account – the one that couldn’t log in! What I did to resolve this was to:

  1. Ensure Dynamics is not running and all other users are logged out of it
  2. Navigate to the location where Dynamics is installed (in this case C:\Dynamics)
  3. Open the SYSTEM directory
  5. Run Dynamics and log into the problem account!

This solution would only work for the older (Btrieve) versions of GP Dynamics. For newer versions please see here for a neat little SQL script that you could run in Query Analyzer to log a user out.

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A Basic Guide to Torrents

Written by Richard on July 2, 2012 Categories: Uncategorized Tags: 


This is a basic guide to torrents; for downloading files via torrent and is intended for those who are new to torrents, and/or may have never used them before.


This guide is not to be used to download any file that would infringe copyright. It is intended for downloading files that are either public domain or that the user has appropriate licenses for. I accept no responsibility for those who misuse this guide in order to infringe copyright.


To download files via torrent you will need:

  • A torrent client
  • Somewhere to search for torrents (torrent database)
  • A torrent file

What is a Torrent Client?

In order to download files via torrent you will need a torrent client. The torrent client is a P2P file sharing application and allows you to download from other people who have the file that you wish to download. It also allows you to share any torrents that you download if you wish.

In the past I’ve found uTorrent incredibly easy to use. Download and install uTorrent.

You may wish to play with the uTorrent settings as you can enable / disable it from starting whenever your computer starts.

Torrent Database

I’ve used IsoHunt in the past, which has a fairly comprehensive database of torrents.

What is a Torrent File?

Torrent files are essentially small files that point to other computers that host the file that you want to download (the target file). Download a torrent file and open it in your torrent client to download the target file (be it public domain music, video or in the example below, a Linux distro).

Torrents are an efficient way to download large files because they’re split into lots of small pieces that can be downloaded from different sources simultaneously. Once all the pieces have been downloaded they’re all assembled and the target file becomes usable.


Once you have uTorrent installed:

  1. Go to IsoHunt
  2. In the search box type in whatever you want to search for (e.g. ‘Linux Slackware’)
  3. In the search results find an entry that has a high number of seeders (the ‘s’ column) and lots of good comments and click on it
  4. Untick the ‘Get Coupons exactly when you need them’ tickbox and click on ‘Download .torrent’ to download the torrent file
  5. Double-click the torrent file that you’ve just downloaded and it will open in uTorrent
  6. On the pop-up window click OK to confirm the files in the torrent that you wish to download (you can choose to download a selection if you wish, but it defaults to all of them)
  7. Your torrent is now in the process of being downloaded. Once it finished you will get a confirmation message.
  8. Once the download finishes you may wish to remove it so that you’re not uploading the file to anyone else. Find the torrent in uTorrent and right-click it then select Remove. It is however considered polite to maintain a 1:1 upload:download ratio (e.g. if you download 5MB then etiquette dictates that you should also keep it live until you’ve uploaded 5MB).
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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Graphic Design

Written by Richard on  Categories: Reviews Tags: ,

One-Sentence Summary

Stay away if you have any graphic design knowledge whatsoever.


  • Title: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Graphic Design
  • Author: Marjorie Crum and Marcia Layton Turner
  • Type: Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • ISBN: 1592578063
  • price at time of writing: £11.69


I’ve purchased a number of idiot / dummy guide books in the past, some of which go into incredible levels of detail and build quickly & heavily on the knowledge learned in the opening chapters. In this case however the book’s title should be taken literally; this book presents an incredibly basic introduction to graphic design.

More of a non-designers design guide, the content would be suitable for those who are not designers nor are wishing for a career in design but just want to be able to design more cohesive communications.


Reading back through the book you will find instances of block elements overlapping the text which I believe is less of an intended style and more of an unintended printing error. Those accustom to design books are likely to remain unfulfilled with the author’s choice to have the entire book printed in a single media across the board. A fundamentals book like this could have benefited greatly by introducing the readers to various printing media options that are available (card stock, matt, gloss, etc.) in a physical form as opposed to just in-text mentions as they are not likely to have physically experienced these materials before.


This book would suit non-designers interested in gaining an understanding of the bare basics of graphic design in an extremely tight time frame. Anybody who has any experience or background in design would be able to spend their money more effectively elsewhere. There are certainly higher-level books, both in terms of detail and knowledge prerequisites at the same price point as this book or below. When put in terms of price, this book by no means over promises, but I think it under delivers.

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Simple Arrays in VB.NET

Written by Richard on June 18, 2012 Categories: Tags: ,

The following code is a demonstration of some simple arrays in VB.NET. In this example I declare an array of 4 elements and initialize all the elements on one line. Remember that indexes in VB.NET start at 0.

' Declare array of 4 elements
Dim intArray(3) As Integer
' Initialize the array
intArray = {100, 200, 300, 400}

Please bear in mind that if you declare an array of a specific size you do not necessarily have to specify values for all elements at once. You can do it in a loop, for example:

' Alternative method
For i As Integer = 0 To intArray.GetUpperBound(0)
        intArray(i) = (i + 1) * 100

You can then resize the array, if required, by using ReDim. If you wish to keep the existing values in the array you’ll need to specify the Preserve keyword as per the following example:

' Resize array to 6 elements
ReDim Preserve intArray(5)
' Set values for the additional elements
intArray(4) = 500
intArray(5) = 600

We can also use rectangular multi dimensional arrays (where there are the same number of child elements in each parent element) in a similar way:

' Declare an array of 4 x 2 elements
Dim intRect(3, 1) As Integer
' Initialize the array
intRect = {{1, 2}, {3, 4}, {5, 6}, {7, 8}}
' Alternative method
For i As Integer = 0 To intRect.GetUpperBound(0)
        For j As Integer = 0 To intRect.GetUpperBound(1)
                intRect(i, j) = (i * 2) + j + 1

Jagged arrays (where there can be a different number of child elements in each parent element) deserver their own post.

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