Over the years, companies have sent Bob Schwabach and me a lot of printers for review. We once lined up six of them and they were all clogged. After hearing from readers on this topic, I’m tempted to start a Cloggers Anonymous.
“My sister has an Epson XP-446 that seems to have been clogging up since just after she bought it,” one guy wrote. “She doesn’t print much and suspects the printheads are clogging between uses. Is it worth buying the $25 kit to clean the heads or should I just get her a new printer? I am concerned it will just clog up again.”
“You probably don’t need a new printer or a cleaning kit,” I told him. “You just need to select the right buttons on the machine to run the printhead-cleaning routine. You can find your printer manual online. There will be a section on how to clean the printheads.”
Any inkjet printer will clog from disuse. Experts say you should use it at least once a week to prevent this. The longer the ink cartridges sit unused, the more likely it is that the ink left on the printheads will dry up and clog. But even if you use the printer every day, clogging is still possible. Run your printer’s cleaning cycle once a month, to be sure. It’s just a matter of pushing the right buttons.
Saved by a Free App
Without a free recording app called “Otter,” from Otter.ai, I would have lost one of the best memories I have. Otter records any conversation and gives you an instant transcript.
Otter keeps your recordings in your own private space on its own website, which is a godsend if you do a factory reset of your phone and lose them. It also makes a transcript of every recording, so when you’re on the Otter website, you can export either the recording, the transcript or both.
Otter is great for doctor’s appointments. Doctors have a way of rattling information off so fast, you hardly get what they’re saying. But the recording I made of Bob telling guests about his Moroccan adventures is the one I treasure most.
When Bob was a 20-something, he gave some Spanish sailors $5 to take him to the rocky islet of Perejil, not knowing that he was about to enter a Moroccan military base. After waving goodbye to the sailors and climbing a cliff, he was immediately taken for a spy. A firing line assembled, pushing him to the cliff edge. Just as he was considering diving down to the water below, the captain emptied Bob’s kit bag. His passport fell out. “Américain?” he asked. Bob was saved. In 1786, Morocco signed a treaty of peace and friendship with America, cementing the longest unbroken relationship in U.S. history.
With all this news about the coronavirus, there’s more concern than ever about germy phones. The average person touches his or her phone 2,600 times a day.
If you have an iPhone, a recent Samsung Galaxy or Pixel 4, there are phone cases that kill germs on contact. The “Speck Presidio Pro” is $40. Tech 21’s “Evo Check” covers more Samsung models but fewer iPhone models for $30. There are also antimicrobial screen protectors, such as the InvisibleShield Glass Elite VisionGuard and some from UltraClear. But they’re only compatible with fairly new phones. Alcohol wipes are not recommended because they remove the coating that protects your phone from smudges. Even worse, they don’t get rid of all germs.
I use an $80 box from PhoneSoap.com. The company got started when one of the founders discovered that the average cellphone is 18 times dirtier than a public restroom.
To use it, place your phone inside the box. UV-C laser light zaps 99.9% of the bacteria away while the phone charges. You can also throw in keys, credit cards, earbuds and other small objects. A new, much larger PhoneSoap box is coming out later this month for $200. It can handle pacifiers, tablets, game machines like the Nintendo Switch and so on. By the way, PhoneSoap doesn’t claim their product kills COVID-19, but UV-C light has been shown to kill the virus in the right dosage.
We can expect to see many more such gadgets, including “The Luna” from TheLunasphere.com. Small businesses are starting to use it for outgoing packages. They use a conveyor belt: The gizmos go through a tunnel that looks something like the airport screening system for your luggage and electronics. A home version starts at $1,895.
Zoom Tip of the Week
Use “Lingmo Translate” to send text messages in 80 languages while you’re in the chat area of Zoom, the online conferencing system. You can also use it outside of Zoom, but Zoom makes it easier. Just go to the Zoom Marketplace and click to install the free app. If you’re not the administrator of a Zoom account, you can send a request to the administrator. It’s $89 a year after the first free month.
“FilmRise,” a free movie app, has added award-winning movies and TV shows to its lineup, for viewing from Sept. 13 through Sept. 20. The idea is to get you in the mood for the virtual Emmy Awards on Sept. 20. Titles include “An American Crime,” “Hunter” and oldies like “The Rifleman” and “Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music.”