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My laser printer has died

I went to print something, because for running off bits of datasheets it is often simpler to toss them at a laser printer than to deal with inkjets...
...and nothing. Not a peep, blink, or clunk.

Upon making a cursory examination, the internal fuse is fine. There is a 24V supply (I didn't test the HV) but nothing at all where the 3.3V should be. So, without that, none of the processing will be working.

The electronics of my laser printer
The electronics of my laser printer.

Given the design of the power board (lots of custom parts with weird part numbers) and the lack of any schematic, I cannot track down which part generates the 3.3V and look to replacing something. Is it just a transistor-like voltage regulator that is dead? I don't know. And I don't fancy getting too close to that board without a schematic given that it also outputs -488V, +1300V, -1000V, and 1500VAC.

It's a shame, as I actually quite liked this little Samsung Laser. It was small, unobtrusive, worked with RISC OS (PCL emulation), and equally with my Android devices. Plus it wasn't upset about clone cartidges. Oh, and it had a built in web server for setting it up.
Looking on Amazon, it... seems rather hit and miss as to whether buying something will actually be useful or not.
I'm looking at a Brother HL-L2375DW (though, not shipped by Amazon...). Does anybody have experience with this printer?
HP are completely off my radar, as I understand it HP keep taking measures (via stuff slipped into periodic firmware updates) to prevent the use of less expensive third party refills. It should be up to you what you want to put into your printer.

But nothing as yet, I don't need a laser printer that badly and I am putting pretty much everything on hold until I know what/how my car will do regarding its MOT (Contrôle Technique).

 

The sad pickle

I had a pizza just after putting the laser back together, and discovered a very appropriate "sad" pickle.

A sad pickle
A sad pickle.

 

Car repair

As you know, in the cold weather my little car flattened its battery trying to get it started one morning. The engine was also suffering from quite a degree of power loss. It didn't really want to go much beyond ~42kph until the engine had warmed up (around 8-10 minutes), and it struggled to get up hills, needless to say the cars behind were not amused when the hill on the way home would see me going up it at around 34kph or so.

As it turns out, one of the glow plugs was 'usée' and the other was 'morte'. That is to say, one was kind of worn out and the other was dead. I can only imagine that their behaviour in smaller engines such as this must be somewhat different to that in larger engines, and I should consider these to be a consumable part (and maybe ask to have them changed if I get a servicing done in the Autumn). They aren't expensive (online they're like €6,50 or so, he charged me €32 but his are actual Kubota parts and not knock-offs). I'd do it myself (you just unscrew the thing and bung a replacement in) but I'm not currently sure what sort I need. Maybe next time I'll ask for two "just in case" she starts acting up next winter.

The front brakes were also seen to, and the thing that took time and effort was changing the old/worn engine mountings. These are three little rubber vibration absorbers (two at the front, one at the rear) to allow the engine to wobble without making absolutely everything else wobble. But, being a dinky little car, they were not easy to get at.

Changing the front brake pads
Changing the front brake pads.

All in all, €64 for the two glow plugs, €16 + €16 + €14.60 for the mountings, €25 for the brake pads, €85.50 for his labour (an hour and a half), plus little bits and pieces and or course a good €50 in VAT... came to three hundred euros.
Dude makes in an hour and a half what I make in an entire day. <sulk>

I need new back tyres (he quoted "about €150 all in"), plus a check of everything prior to the MOT (he estimates about an hour), plus of course the MOT itself (about €80 I think?).

And that is assuming it passes. Given the cloud of smoke that came out of the exhaust when he accelerated sharply, I wouldn't imagine that would be a pass.

 

Gardening

Yesterday I chopped down some brambles, the first chopping of the year. I also noted that the grass needs to be mown again. I'm leaving it until next week because, yes, I know it is spring but mowing as much as I have weekly is... ugh.

I then turned the original potato patch. I have some Spunta to plant. Never heard if it, but the sign in the supermarket said they were supposed to be nice large ones for baked potatoes.
I never ate the ones I grew last year (or was it the year before?), they were so small and fiddly that I wasn't really sure what to do with them. For me, potatoes come in two forms. Either cut into strips and fried in some manner, or baked whole. A titchy potato satisfies neither possibility.

The old rotovator completely refused to start, so I went into the 'cave' around back and dragged out the rotovator that I got "from some random bloke I found on the internet".
That, too, refused to start, until in the process of checking the air filter and looking to see if there was some way to prime it that I had forgotten about, I noticed that the Start/Stop marked by the carburettor was exactly the opposite to that marked on the handle. Which, yes, I had noted on the linked page but had forgotten in the months following.
So I flipped the lever the other way and it started immediately. 🤦🏻

And since the ground was quite wet and clumpy, it was heavy going. But the first pass is now done. I'll turn it again just prior to planting.
Hmm, maybe I should get some of that horse-poop fertiliser stuff and mix that in?

Did the earth move for you
Did the earth move for you too, dear?

Today, I decided to sort out a bit along the edge of the stream back by the Northern Passage. I started with this.

Before...
Before...

And ended with this.

...after.
...after.

I didn't do right down the slope as, well, I didn't fancy dealing with the strimmer nor all the crap it would fling at me. I cut back some of the trees, so the next time I pass by with Marte, I can keep a lot of it down using the big mower.
That's sort of the plan. The more I can do in a couple of minutes using a ride on mower is the less I have to do in a couple of hours using something else.
Of course, the brambles have not got the message. They keep poking their heads up and saying "nope, this land is mine". I keep having to remind them who pays the bills around here...

 

Modern Mona Lisa and other AI madness

I asked an AI for a picture of Mona Lisa as a goth chick in a neotech world. This was the result.

A goth Mona Lisa
A goth Mona Lisa.

Hmm, don't I have some of her stuff in my playlist? ☺

Now, I'm absolutely not one for wallowing in the AI hype. I think it's often a solution in search of a problem, and that many things with AI in them are... not necessary.
However, it can be a fun distraction. I suck at drawing, so it's pretty nifty to be able to come up with a description and have a machine create some artwork that fits the description. Of course, this can take several iterations and it can interpret your instructions in peculiar (often comical) ways. And, yes, the results are frequently a bit off. Look at her eyes. At least this time they're both the same colour, if not the same eye...

For me, it's an interesting toy mostly. The ability to take imagined things and make them appear, more or less. Here, for example, is a neon wireframe whale lazily floating over Paris at sunset. I wouldn't even know how to begin drawing such a thing, but an AI made an acceptable image in a matter of moments, and even sort-of threw in the obligatory reference to the Eiffel Tower (even if it doesn't look much like the actual Eiffel Tower, the rest of the imagery is lovely enough that a better representation could be pasted into the image if necessary).

A whale over Paris
Just having a whale of a time in Paris.

This whale, and the rest of these pictures aren't Dall-E2, they are from an app called "Genie Anime AI" which, as the name suggests, is aimed at creating animé style images.

And this was supposed to be a girl skydiving, but I'm just going to guess that the AI doesn't quite understand the concept? Or maybe my prompting sucks?

This isn't how I'd sky dive
This isn't how I'd sky dive...

Let's try describing the scene in many more words.

Oh, craaaaa....
Oh, craaaaaaa....

That actually took several tries and numerous times having to pretend to watch an advert for an annoying looking game called either Township or Whiteout Survival. Either way, I was writing this or checking/testing some code for the time it took that rubbish to time out. Still, saves having to subscribe. ☺
And the wait was worth it, her expression is everything.
Just don't look too closely at the details (missing fingers, where's her shoulder, and the extra bit of backpack), though I'd imagine a spot of Photoshopping could fix those glitches.

And just for fun, here are some of the ones along the way that amused me. Some of them look quite good (it's the Matoko Shinkai style backgrounds, isn't it?) until you're like... girl, you have how many appendages?

Some random nonsense
Some random nonsense.

 

How about a nice cup of Tea?

No, we won't be talking about the delicious brown beverage (though I am drinking some as I write this...but you knew that), this is a new piece of software for RISC OS.

A few weeks ago, I posted a screenshot to the ROOL forum and just as a joke I added a "Tea" device icon to see if anybody was paying attention. It was just a few lines of code to pop an icon on the iconbar, like this:

Spot the Tea device
Spot the Tea device.

Somebody noticed and asked me what the icon was, and I replied:

It's exactly what it says, it's "the tea device". After a certain amount of activity it reminds me to drink the tea that I have made (before it gets too cold) along with periodic reminders to go make fresh tea.

Knowing my thoughts on the brown liquid refreshment and the fact that I have the attention span of a comatose goldfish, nobody questioned this. 😂

It was, however, complete llama dung.

The icon was for something else, and the Tea device app I threw together in a few minutes...like forty lines of BASIC to pop the icon there and poll until it is clicked (at which point the app quits).

The icon? It was for this app.

Tea - your Freesat TV guide

Freesat TV Guide
Freesat TV Guide.

This is an application to show the TV listings for Freesat. It obtains information using the Freesat API, so it will not, and cannot, work for Freeview (terrestrial), Sky, or various fibre operators with TV streaming. Just want to make that clear...

Though, it could be used for channels in common - terrestrial Freeview often carries a lot of the same channels (depending on location - check your coverage). Just please be aware that non-Freesat channels won't be available.

When you open the main EPG style grid (shown above), you will see the displayed selection of channels by default.

 

Setting up your preferred channels

In order to change the available channels, open the iconbar menu and choose Channels, or simply click the iconbar icon using Adjust.

You will see this:

Choose your TV channels
Choose your TV channels.

Simply click Select to toggle if a channel is ticked, or not. If you aren't familiar with what a channel is (given some of them have weird names like "Dave" and "W" and "Really"...), then click Adjust for a brief channel description (as provided by the channel).

An example channel description
An example channel description.

Once you have chosen which channels you want to see, simply close the channel list window.

Note that you cannot select no channels. If you try, Tea will offer you The Big Five as a default choice.

 

Using the EPG grid

Simply scroll left and right to see from 4am (today) until 6am (tomorrow morning). Channels generally provide coverage from 4-6am until 4-6am.
A red vertical line, if visible, will denote the current time. You can see an example of this below.

If you click Select on any programme, a description will pop up.

An example programme description
An example programme description.

In order to view programmes on a different day, click Menu on the grid. You can choose any day from "today" until "this day next week".

What day would you like?
What day would you like?

Finally, if you would like to see the programmes for a given channel as a list, simply click Select on the channel name on the left side of the grid.

Channel listings
Channel listings.

 

Overseas viewers

If you look at the iconbar menu, you will see an option marked UK time, that is ticked.
If your machine is not the same as British time, if you're in France or Spain for example, then all of the schedule times will be translated to British time. This is the default as it is the most useful if you have a satellite receiver than is capable of recording, its clock is probably going to be synchronised to the time signal from the satellite.
If you would rather see the times in local time, simply choose that option to toggle whether or not it is ticked.

If you live in the UK, this option should have no effect as your offset from UK time will be zero.

Note that this setup has not been tested with summer time programme information. I don't know if the server will continue sending times as GMT or if it will switch to BST; and thus how much correction will need to be applied. I guess we'll find out in a week and a half. ☺

 

Look and feel

Tea actually reads the Desktop font setting, so it will fit in to your preferred look and feel. For example, if your desktop font is Sassoon, then...

A different font, and the time-now caret.
and...

The list in a different font.

 

Caching

The channel list and setup, once built, is used from that point on.

If you are aware of a channel that has been added, or removed, you can cause it to appear (or disappear) by flushing the program cache data. To do this, quit the Tea and then reload it whilst holding down Alt (either one).
Note that this will discard your selected channels, you'll need to set them up again.

If a channel is added to the list and it doesn't have an ident graphic (the channel logo), then you'll get a teacup instead. If you spot teacups, please let me know so I can add the channel ident to the big spritefile.

In order to reduce load on the Freesat server, programme data - once retrieved - is considered valid for the next three hours and any data fetches will use the cached information.

 

Known issues

  • It isn't yet known how BST is handled.
  • Channel choices are stored in the channel data file. Which means rebuilding the channel data will discard channel choices. Likewise, the program starts up with UK time selected. Are these things likely to be problematic?
  • The application name has not been allocated. I sent a request on Saturday and it bounced because GMail is paranoid about spam (ROOL addresses are quietly redirected to various addresses on other services, but this redirection is upsetting Google's enhanced spam blocking), so I sent one directly to the email address mentioned in the rejection request. It didn't bounce, but likewise I don't know if it was received or not. That being said, there was a show on Saturday so...busier?
    I'm not aware of any other app for RISC OS called "Tea", so here is one.

These ones are known, but are not considered issues:

  • There is no facility for setting an alarm for a specific programme. The Adjust-click is reserved for this, but for some reason Alarm does not appear to have any mechanism to insert user alarms into the alarm database. The best you can do is a "Task Alarm" and that's not the same thing.
    I suppose Organiser might be a possibility, but I don't have that.
  • The application does not retrieve idents for new channels. This is because they need to be retrieved, converted to a smaller sprite using ChangeFSI, then merged into the main sprite file. This could be done programatically, but it's a bother and I don't think the channels change often enough to justify all the work.
  • In the absence of a network connection, the application will hourglass for about ten seconds before timing out and then dying. This is intentional - Tea cannot do anything useful without being online.
  • The floating channel names flicker. There's a lot that gets done to make that work. I did try to add a wait for VSync, but that actually made things worse due to the time between the Wimp's automatic redrawing of the icons and when I come to shift the channel names.
    I think an alternative way to handle this would be to make this a pane (so the Wimp will clip to its border), but that's a lot of additional hassle for what is otherwise not a difficult concept. I think the main problem here is the amount of work that goes on between the Wimp's drawing and my drawing (I get it at the OpenWindow request following the scroll change).
    A possible future optimisation - don't redo the icons if they haven't actually moved (wibble the mouse scroll wheel with the window opened to full height, you'll see what I mean).
  • The channel ident for Jewellery Maker is wrong. It used a PNG with some weirdo transparency-on-black that nothing on RISC OS wanted to deal with. As it's hardly a mainstream channel, I didn't feel it was warranted to fix it pixel by pixel. If anybody actually watches this channel and/or is terminally bored (and has read everything on Bored Panda already), then you're welcome to send me a corrected graphic. I won't hold my breath, though...

 

The boring small print stuff

In smaller print, too! (allow me to fix this wonky lampshade) This is the first release and as such comes with the disclaimer of "it works here, it works for me". If this is not the case for you, please get in touch to tell me what went wrong.

This software is offered as is, with no warranty, and no liability will be accepted for malfunction such as, but not limited to, you miss your favourite film because the times were wrong, or your kitten gets addicted to watching grown men pretend to beat each other up.

NOTE WELL (as this may soon be an EU requirement...): This program has NOT undergone any form of security testing for vulnerabilities and it accepts data from the internet. It is not believed to present any issues as it parses textual data and corrupt data will simply fail to parse. Ranged string functions (ie strncpy etc) are used to prevent buffer overruns from corrupt data. Corrupt data may or may not cause the program to crash, act weird, or sulk like an obstreperous teenager.
If this sort of thing bothers you, well, frankly, you probably shouldn't be using RISC OS. ☺

 

AcornSSL (and a rant about version numbers)

Tea includes a little utility that tests for AcornSSL with mbedTLS version 2.28.7 or later. This is necessary for two reasons.
The first reason being that the Freesat site uses something "fairly recent" (as in a module from a couple of years ago fails), so I am setting the baseline as one that is available now that does work.
The second reason? ROOL's inability to have version numbers bumped when an indirect component of a module changes. There are numerous instances of this: AcornHTTP when the LZW code changed (and was broken!), CompressPNG, and, of course, the most egregious being the many versions of AcornSSL 1.06 spanning numerous incarnations of mbedTLS over the course of something like four years, and TLS being what it is, each module has different capabilities. To have all of these modules retain the same module version number is incomprehensible to the point of incompetence.
If you think I'm being rude, this is usually the sweary part, as RISC OS provides a module version number checking scheme for exactly this sort of issue... so I'm being quite polite; we could forgive the odd whoopsie here and there, nobody is perfect, but this is an issue spanning multiple parts of the OS over the course of numerous years that has gone unaddressed. Trust me, if you swap the (current?) PCompMod 0.07 from July 2023 with an earlier PCompMod 0.07 from May 2021, Stuff. Will. Crash. Trying. To. Use. It. This is exactly what module version numbers are for.

Look, I fully understand that technically the module code itself has not changed, however when an included part (LZW library, TLS code, whatever) does change, the end result is a non-identical module. When it is relating to Internet encryption, in particular, it may well have quite different levels of functionality/security. I mean, they do understand why mbedTLS keeps getting updated, right?
Therefore, the argument of "the module code has not changed" does not hold water. The end result is different, in terms of the actual code used to build it and its eventual functionality. This is exactly the sort of thing that version numbering is for. This situation needs to be addressed.

Anyway...
Suffice to say, you'll need at least mbedTLS 2.28.7 in your AcornSSL. If you don't, or you aren't sure, grab the nightly Harddisc4 archive and look inside Hardisc4.!Boot.Resources.!System.350.Modules.Network.URL (yes, quite a mouthful). It's in there, and it should be copied to the same place on your machine.

Depending on when you last updated your !Boot, you may also require URL (0.58) and AcornHTTP (1.09). These are both in ...!System.310.Modules.Network.URL.

 

Download your cup of Tea

Okay then, now for the download!

Download tea_0-01.zip (356.65K)
For RISC OS machines.

 

Update - 2024/03/22

It has been observed that Tea would crash on RPCEmu (and real RiscPC hardware) due to the use of a MOVW instruction. This is because my standard MakeFiles now target modern era (Pi, etc) machines. However, since there is no particular reason to omit the older hardware for this project, it has been rebuilt in an ARMv3 compatible way.
The archive link above has been updated. If Tea didn't work for you, please give the new version a try. If it did work, you don't need to download this updated version, it is only different compiler options, there are no changes to the code or functionality.

 

Update - 2024/03/23

Version 0.02 has been released, take a look...

 

 

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Zerosquare, 20th March 2024, 22:46
How much is the laser printer worth? If it was expensive enough, finding a similar printer (that has a different fault) on eBay and swapping the power board could be an option.
Joseps, 21st March 2024, 08:51
If the only fault is a 3.3v line lost, you could use a cheap buck converter to feed directly the voltage from other low voltage working one.
C Ferris, 21st March 2024, 10:51
With Diesel mots - some rattle the engine in a lower gear - a lot of shit gets chucked out of the exhaust. 
 
Have you checked the air filter & indeed had the fuel filter changed since you have had the car?
Rick, 21st March 2024, 11:56
Zerosquare: 
The printer came from a vide grenier. There doesn't seem to be much online that doesn't cost the earth. 
 
Joseps: 
The failed 3.3V is what I have found so far. It may have failed because the PSU failed, or the PSU might have failed because the electronics did... 
However, good plan, I've just ordered a buck converter from Amazon, it's worth a try. 
 
Colin: 
There aren't any gears, it's a CVT. 
Air and fuel filters get changed every 10K km, which was about 3.5K ago (when I last had it serviced, 11th September last year). 
Remember, it's a little two cylinder engine, they use those things in grown up mowers. 😂
David Pilling, 21st March 2024, 12:44
Benchmark - cheapest laser printer at Currys BROTHER EcoPro HLL2400DWE £130. 
When my Epson inkjet failed recently, I bought a Canon, from Argos, cost about £35, and has a scanner built in. Aamazing how much stuff one can get for the money. 
Both printers mentioned do duplex and have WiFi. 
Printers mature tech now, and probably generation phone does not print out as much - declining market. 
Rick, 21st March 2024, 12:53
David, do you print to the laser from RISC OS? If so, how? That model doesn't appear to support PCL6 so I'm guessing you're not using it as a generic LaserJet with !Printers (and RemotePrinterFS)?
David Pilling, 21st March 2024, 18:45
Hi Rick - I didn't say I had that printer. Just that it was a benchmark for how much you might expect to pay for a new one. I have a HP LJ 4050 which must be getting on for 25 years old. But it was educational to look at the Brother. It supports 'driverless' printing, seems it will work with your phone, although I'd guess not RISC OS. It's native printer language is GDI - guess not RISC OS, guess download a big bit map to the printer. 
Argos - got two laser printers at around 80 quid. HP LaserJet M110we seems to support PCL, available from Amazon. 
I am being bad, I am suggesting that at the price you might as well get new as try to fix the old one. With the Canon Pixma I got, I feel normal people will buy a new printer every time the ink runs out, because the price is about the same. 
Rick, 21st March 2024, 19:12
Yes, the cheaper laser printers are GDI (and some sort of IPP?). I'd prefer to have PCL built in, which is why I picked the one I did. 
 
Be careful of anything HP, third party supplies are verboten. 
 
The reason there are so many old printers around here is because I used to do exactly that - about a decade ago new printers were cheaper than refills. Unfortunately they got wise to that and now new printers tend to come with "starter" cartridges. Enough to prime the ink system (if built in heads) and print a few pages to demonstrate capabilities. Then you have to cough up for the DRM protected unicorn tears...
jgh, 21st March 2024, 21:46
The laser printer I have here is a (groan.... gets out of chair.... staggers across room...) Brother HL-54440. I have it on a switch box between WinPC, A5000, and MDFS. It has Parallel and USB - I used the USB interface to develop my BBC USB Printer driver. ;) 

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