A plethora of technical nonsense.

Once again I come to you about my Phaser 8560. About a week ago I noticed that the small LCD screen on the control panel showed some garbled text. I started pressing buttons on the control panel and it seemed to snap out of it and display normally. Then this morning the screen was completely blank. Pressing buttons did nothing. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily say the screen is “broken” because it does light up which tells me it is at least getting power. However not being able to see any words on the display can be somewhat of a problem. Technically I can still print just fine, but good luck changing any configurations or “walk-up” features.

Just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke I turned the power off and back on again since this seems to resolve 90% of problems with electronics. Unfortunately this didn’t fix anything.

Well since I’m kind of weird and want the display to work I decided I would do something about it. If you’re experiencing an issue with a blank or garbled display on your Phaser here’s what I did.

  1. Call Xerox at 1-800-835-6100
  2. Choose Option 1
  3. Choose Option 1 Again
  4. When you are connected to a representative, politely tell them what problem you are experiencing and that after researching it online you found this to be a common and known issue with these printers. Again, politely, ask if they can send you a replacement control panel.

A couple of notes:
First you will need your printer serial number. If you don’t feel like wrestling this beast to physically get it from the printer simply turn the power off and then back on again. On startup the Phaser will spit out a page with the Serial Number on it. (Pretty handy)

Also, in case you are wondering, the entire process (including “Hold” time) took about 20 minutes and the representative said as a one-time courtesy they would overnight me a new control panel free of charge.

Replacing the module is easy, just follow the instructions in this video.


For over a year now, the check engine light on my 2000 Subaru Outback has been coming on and off randomly. I borrowed an OBDII scanner and checked the error code. P0420 – Catalyst Deficiency.

I came to the conclusion that either the second oxygen sensor or the catalytic converter needed to be replaced. Since I’m lazy and cheap, I decided to research a way to get around buying an expensive new catalytic converter, or get myself in over my head on a mechanical fix. All I wanted to do is trick the computer.

After scouring the internet for awhile, I was getting little results. I found a wiring diagram that identified the OBDII pinout arrangement, but that didn’t really help me. I read through the oxygen sensor information in my Chilton manual and found something interesting- the computer is simply comparing the signal between the first and second sensors. Aha!

Now we’ve got something. All we need to do is determine the ideal signal “ratio” and duplicate it with our signal.

Before we get too excited, let’s go back and make sure we know where to find this signal that we are wanting to screw with. A quick look through the Chilton manual gave me a general idea of what I was looking for. I located the second sensor and noted the wire colors: 2 Black, 1 White, 1 Blue. It took some creative search terms, but I was able to identify the wires as a Signal (+/-) and Heater (+/-).

Since we know which wire carries the signal, we can now focus on how we want to modify it.

Here’s all you have to do:

  • Get a 3A Barrel Diode from RadioShack
  • Trim the leads down to 3/8″-1/2″ and crimp each end into a typical butt connector
  • Note which side the silver bar is on the diode 
  • Carefully slit the tubing around the bundle of sensor wires so that you can access about 2″-3″ of the wires
  • As shown below, remove a section of the BLUE wire a little bit shorter than the diode-crimp assembly
  • Carefully strip a short piece of insulation from the ends of the blue wire and crimp the diode in place making sure that the silver bar is on the end farthest from the sensor.
  • Wrap with electrical tape or shrink tubing for protection
Subaru Outback Oxygen Sensor Wiring Diagram

Oxygen Sensor Wiring Diagram

After installing the diode, your check engine light should disappear immediately (or at least mine did). I checked with the OBDII scanner which showed that no DTCs were present, but that the O2 and EVA tests had not run yet. I hopped on the freeway (since this is where the code always sets) and drove for about 20-30 minutes. I rechecked the codes and both tests had set and the green LED on the scanner was illuminated indicating it was ready for emission inspection.

I drove straight to emissions and passed first try, both the oxygen sensor and oxygen heater system were “Ready” on the test print-out. Currently, I have not had the check engine light come back on.

Obviously, this is not an actual solution to the problem, your hardware is still probably bad. However, if you just need to get by, I think this is the cheapest and easiest way to do it. Hopefully this is helpful to others out there, this seems to be a fairly common problem.

Homemade Salsa Recipe

Fresh Homemade Salsa

Fresh Homemade Salsa

¡Dan’s Delicious Salsa!
2 lbs Roma Tomatoes
1/2 White Onion
1 bushel Cilantro
2 bundles Green Onions
1 Lime (just the juice)
3 Jalepeños
1/2 can Tomato Paste
1 (15 oz) can Tomato Sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 habanero peppers (optional but recommended)

Preparation: Finely chop all ingredients and combine in large bowl, then eat it. 

“Hot Tip”

  • Mild- No habaneros
  • Warm- 1 habanero
  • Hot- 2 habaneros
  • Sign an Insurance Waiver HOT- 3 habaneros

After bragging about how much I love my Xerox (Phaser 8560) I ran into a little problem the other day…

First the printer told me I was out of yellow ink, so I popped open the ink cover and had 4 and half sticks (of the xerox solid ink) in there…. doesn’t look like a shortage to me! 

So I did a little looking online and found that this could be a problem with the ink sensor or a malformed ink block. 

The tricky part of solving this issue was getting the old ink out without disassembling the printer. The first four blocks were fairly easy. Using an Xacto knife I was able to slide the blocks up and pull them out (like playing operation). The problem came when I wanted to remove the half stick that was all the way down at the bottom. 

First I tried bending a paper clip into a little probe, heating the end and poking it in, hoping it would then cool and pull the cube out. No luck. Any further attempt to poke at the cube proved unsuccessful. 

While poking at the cube however, I noticed that since it had been heated, it was somewhat stuck in place. I took the paper clip and tried to jostle the cube around and break it loose- success.

Next, I still had to figure out how to get the darn thing out. I then took the paper clip and bent a 90 degree turn on the end about 3/8″ long with a pair of pliers. I then slid this over the top of the cube laying flat and rotated it to make a little hook. This was a step in the right direction, but not quite the solution. When being pulled by the top, the cube had a tendancy to stick on the “not so smooth” bottom track. 

I was finally able to slide the cube up by pushing the paper clip with the 90 degree angle along the side of the stick, then using a second paper clip to help guide the way. Once it was up a little ways, I was able to poke it with the Xacto and move it along like the previous cubes. 

Upon extracting the partial cube, a defect was clearly visible in the partially used portion. I can’t tell you how it got there or where the rest of the cube went. After successfully removing all the ink and replacing the other (new) cubes, the problem was solved.

So if you have an error message telling you that you’re out of ink when you’re not, this could very well be the problem. If it’s not you may want to do a search on google to find the method for resetting the error codes or checking the ink level sensor.

Good Luck!

This one goes out to all the Comcast customers out there that were forced into Digital Cable.

Crappy Comcast DTA Box

Crappy Comcast DTA Box

This little guy look familiar? This is the Comcast DTA box that they provide you with so that you can experience “Crystal Clear Picture Quality & Sound”. HA! That’s the biggest crock of sh*t I’ve heard in a while.

I’ll just tell you about my experience with these boxes, then we can get together and compare notes.

First, let’s note that we never asked to upgrade to Digital Cable, we were forced to. Second, our service was just fine the way it was.

But of course, in keeping up with the times, Comcast feeds you a line that you’ll now need this little box to receive any channels over 31 (in my service area). What’s even better is that they claim that you will have better picture and sound quality from Digital Cable. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Since the change, we were issued two of the DTA boxes in addition to our DVR (which by the way works fine). Both boxes are completely useless. We receive enough channels to count on one hand, and on top of that they all have the digital garble all over them. Nice.

So I called Comcast to see what was up… they suggested wiggling the cables, replacing the cables (neither yielded any results). Next they tried to send a signal to the box to make sure it was active. No results. In case you’re wondering, I DID activate the boxes online.

Now we have hundreds of channels with the massively entertaining message “One Moment Please… Your service has been temporarily interrupted and should be restored shortly”. Well, that, or an episode of House in which the digital scrambled eggs make him look like Robocop. Why even bother with the box? At least without it I can watch city hall meetings and no-talent hacks attempt to host their own show on public access.

Personally, I’m convinced it’s a hardware issue. Our DVR works perfectly, the DTA box doesn’t work at all. Now there is also a middle grade box that gives you access to onDemand, but they want me to pay $6.99 per month for that.

Why should I pay an additional $6.99 per month for a service that I should already have. Good grief, we pay over $100 per month already for TV and Internet. That’s not enough? Again, our service was fine before, I didn’t ask for any changes and I’m certainly not going to give Comcast more money to fix THEIR problem.

I love how big companies force you into changes before they’re ready to handle them. In the software industry we do a little thing called BETA testing… you should give it a try sometime.

This is all on top of the fact that when we switched they completely lied to us and charged us for a “Home Theater Install” which never happened. Our DVR was supposed to be free for one year… Nope- $8.99 per month. Our bill was only supposed to go up $14 by adding a phone line… Wrong again! We ditched that phone line right away.

All in all, my personal feeling is that the Comcast’s digital switch has more to do with monitoring how many TV’s you have than providing higher quality service. Just to be fair, I will say that I have no problems with my internet service (it would truly rain sh*t on Comcast if I did) and that the people at the local office have been helpful and courteous… hopefully they’ll keep that up when I go to exchange boxes.

I hope that you all have better luck with your service than I have, but honestly, I’m not that optimistic.

I love my Phaser…

Xerox Phaser 8560
Xerox Phaser 8560

I’ve owned a Xerox Phaser 8560 for about a year now and love it. This printer utilizes a newly available technology that Xerox has been developing for more than 10 years- Solid Ink. Instead of using large toner cartridges, you simply drop in a few funky shaped hunks of wax (basically space-age crayons).

Xerox Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black Solid Ink
Xerox Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black Solid Ink

Solid ink generates a fraction of the waste of toner cartridges and produce outstanding quality, full-color prints for the price of black and white laser prints.

The printer is also remarkabely fast, producing up to 30 pages per minute in full-color. When warmed up, the first print is “hot off the press” in seconds.
Another attribute to love, is the “raised-print” feel of Solid Ink. You can actually feel each letter raise off the paper. Honestly, it’s not really a “benefit” so to speak, but for nuts like me, it’s pretty rad (I also love smelling new books… so I guess I’m a freak- right?).
Because I am a freak, I conducted another experiment with a print from my Phaser- the “Water Test”. I soaked a beautiful full-color print in water to see what would happen. The results- Nothing. The very fiber of the paper began falling apart before anything happened to the print- no bleeding or running here- after all, it’s wax!
It’s entirely possible that nobody else cares about such a thing, but for those of us that get annoyed when their Pepsi sweats on a print and the ink runs, it’s cool. Realistically, this would be important for envelope printing where there is a chance that rain could get on the printing and cause distortion.
Anymore, inkjet prints look cheesy to me- although I will say that there are plenty of inkjet printers out there that produce EXCELLENT quality photos. But who buys a high-volume printer for photos? Well the Phaser makes excellent photo prints, however, I did notice that when printed on High Gloss photo paper you can scratch the print off the paper with your fingernail (again- weirdo). 
One last thing I would like to mention for those of you that are considering purchasing this- the color blocks claim to yeild approximately 3000 prints (at 5% coverage). The key there is the 5% coverage. I burned through and entire set of blue blocks printing 250 double sided tri-fold brochures. Granted both sides were completely covered and mostly blue.
The only other thing I would note that may or may not matter to you is that this printer does not support Borderless Printing.
Overall, I would highly recommend this printer to any individual or business that would like to print everyday documents with color (or black and white) without worrying about wasting ink.

Cascading Style Sheets

Cascading Style Sheets is a wonderful way to control the visual content on your websites. In it’s early years, CSS was not the powerful tool it is today mainly because of it’s limited browser support. Now with most browsers supporting CSS 2.0, you can safely utilize this tool on your sites.

CSS works by creating a set of rules that govern how your page content is displayed. These rules can be incorporated into your page in 3 main ways.

  1. You can define a set of styles at the beginning of your page you wish to use the styles on.
  2. You can define styles directly in individual HTML tags.
  3. You can create and external stylesheet which can then be linked to multiple pages using a small block of code.

What’s the big deal about CSS?
The beauty of CSS is that it allows developers an easy way to do something very important- Separate content from appearance.

This very post (and every other post on WordPress) is utilizing style sheets to determine how the content is presented. CSS is what allows you to browse through different page layouts and completely change the look of your site with one click.

You see, the content you are reading is stored in a database. It’s text. It’s boring, unformatted, and ugly. The title of this post looks different than the body text. I didn’t tell it to do that, CSS did. Within the CSS for this page is likely a class named “title” (or something similar). The title class then defines what size the text should be, what font, what color, and many other optional effects (the process is repeated for the body text).

The information is then pulled from the database and inserted into an HTML tag that is of the class “title” and is now formatted to those specifications. Why is this so great? Because it allows developers to create template based pages that are dynamically generated and carry a consistant look and feel. The entire title tag for this post could be condesnsed into a very short DIV tag that is of the class “title” and contains nothing more than a variable. Alternatively, a FONT tag would have to be nested within the DIV tag specifying all the formatting parameters which tends to become very redundant.

Using CSS will save you time and help you write cleaner code.

CSS gets really good when you externalize the stylesheet (as WordPress has). This allows you to make site-wide changes in seconds. Instead of scrolling through hundreds of lines of code looking for (and changing) each instance of an object (or class), you can simply make your changes in one file and they are instantly applied throughout the entire site. If you try to tell me that’s not cool I’ll punch you in the face.

Ultimately, CSS offers you a massive level of control over the visual representation of your content while reducing editing time dramatically.