The next sequel in the mega successful Call of Duty line was released November 10th, 2009 and was lead by a huge blitz of hype since the announcement in February. With such big boots to fill, COD:MW2 had its work ahead. The game was developed by Infinity Ward who also created many of the other Call of Duty titles including the immediate predecessor Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Thanks to Infinity Ward, the company that produced the game, the game was up for the challenge.
The game brings back Soap MacTavish and his team who are sent to hunt down terrorist Vladimir Makarov. You will visit unusual locations like Rio de Janeiro, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan among other locations. The locales are brought to life with Infinity Wards proprietary software engine dubbed W4.0 which they claim is a generation more advanced than the predecessor COD4:MW
The game starts off with training exercises and an obstacle course to figure out the controls and to assess your level of difficulty for the first mission. For me, it was Super Beginner.
One of the best parts of a new COD game is new weapons and MW2 ds not disappoint. Players will get to use the Predator missile. The unique overhead view to launch the missile allows you to guide to its final destination. It takes minimal time to get a hold of the controls for the first time, but this addition adds another layer to the COD player experience. The game also adds Special Ops mode which can be played solo or with others. Special Ops mode is basically a series of mini missions. Other new features include preloading classes like Ranger and Overwatch and adding some unlockable classes like Riot Control. Players can create their own classes as well for more gaming freedom.
Multiplayer mode is where this game shines. Just like MW1, MW2 handles very similar in the multiplayer mode. Users can unlock new weapons, gain experience, and use other add-ons throughout the game. A new feature to Multiplayer is the addition of custom killstreaks and deathstreaks so players can determine what items will become available based on the number of subsequent kills. Deathstreaks were created for players like me so we don’t die too often. Deathstreaks allow a player who dies three times before killing an enemy, to then assume the enemy’s abilities. I like this!
Over all, the game has impressive graphics to give the player the feeling of being immersed in a battlefield and is a Must have if you are a Call Of Duty fan or an avid First Person shooter. Infinity Ward knows how to build a compelling and fun FPS and it shows in MW2. Modern Warfare 2 is focused squarely on the multiplayer mode. The single player mode is shorter that previous editions of the Call of Duty games. So you will find yourself with your friends in a room online playing what could be the biggest game of the year!
Since a hard drive typically lasts for 5 years before the chances of failure start dramatically increasing, you may find yourself at some point with a drive that either fails partially or completely. First, calm down and don’t panic by throwing the drive from your 5th story apartment window only to land on someone’s cherry red Toyota Carolla. Instead, check out SpinRite.
What sets SpinRite apart from the dozens of other hard drive repair utilities is that SpinRite isn’t an installed application. Instead you boot to a SpinRite CD so the entire hard drive can be analyzed. SpinRite then works directly with the harddrive without having to work through different layers like operating systems and such. This means, no matter what kind of machine you have, Mac, Windows, or Linux, SpinRite will work the same. This also means that SpinRite can repair the drive at the lowest level for the greatest possibility of recovery¢Â¦..next to sending the drive off to the clean-room-bunny-suit people to recover your data for $500+.
SpinRite has 5 levels of recovery and data analysis.
1. Examine the Surfaces : which means it verifies and examines the physical surface of the drive for errors.
2. Recover Unreadable Data : this will look at the entire disk and then rewrite it to correct for any errors and recover data.
3. Refresh the Surfaces¢â€ this will read and write all of the data on the disk bit for bit not once, but twice.
4. Locate Surface Errors : this reads all the data on the drive and repairs any areas marked for repair.
5. Restore Good Sectors : this function will read and rewrite all the data bit for bit. The benefit of this feature will restore unusable areas of the drive that may have been inaccessible previously.
Keep in mind that recovery and repair of this level takes time, so don’t think that the drive will be repaired in 5 minutes. It will typically take hours to completely repair a disk depending on the option you choose. I highly recommend SpinRite and it’s worth every penny!
BONUS APPLICATION: Shields Up! https://www.grc.com/x/ne.dll?bh0bkyd2
Also by Gibson Research Corporation, Shields Up! A free online application to help identify internet security vulnerabilities on your computer. Shields Up! probes your computer for any possibility open spots you may ne be aware of. Once the probing is complete, you are shown a full report on the results including steps on how to correct any areas of vulnerability.
I personally use Shields Up! on every computer I set up to ensure I haven’t missed any settings plus it is a verification that the computer is secured as much as possible. Plus it’s free.
Both Digg (http://www.Digg.com ) and Reddit (http://www.Reddit.com ) are social news sites that accept stories from users and then let users vote for stories they like and allow them to make comments.
Reddit was founded in 2005 by two university of Virginia graduates and grew to become a super power of weird news current events. The simplicity of Reddit design puts function before form. There is no glitz, just content and lots of it. Compared to Digg, Reddit wins the simplicity award. Reddit also squeezes more content per page than Digg by foregoing hover-overs and fly-outs. The straight forward approach of Reddit appeals to reader who wants simplicity and content.
Digg, on the other hand, was founded by Kevin Rose in 2004. Starting primarily as a tech news site, it has grown to include World & Business news, Science news, Gaming news, Sports and other more mainstream content. This has lead to a growth in popularity of the site that allows users to DiggÂ stories they like and BuryÂ stories they don’t. Stories that are popular can experience spikes in traffic causing what some refer to as a Digg effectÂ where the sites get really slow or even go down completely.
With that in mind, let the Smackdown begin!
Content. Digg ds have a more mainstream group of news and a popular podcast, Diggnation, highlighting some of the more popular stories on Digg. Reddit packs more punch by utilizing a streamlined interface loaded with odd stories. For my needs, Reddit wins this round.
Audience. Reddit has a very active community submitting and commenting on stories, but Digg has enough traffic to bring down otherwise stable web sites. That’s a significant power to wield to be able to drive that sort of traffic to any site that the community that deems interesting. Digg wins this one hands down.
Design. Digg has always been a clean interface with iconic Digg buttons that are spread throughout the web by imitators. Digg has always stayed true to simplicity of design and easy to use navigation interface. Reddit’s design is barebones which is perfect for the loads of content on the site, but the reddit site design hasn’t been stolen near as many times as the Digg interface.
So in this three round smackdown, Digg takes the title, but I am anticipating this won’t be the last time we will see Reddit bring some innovative ideas and excellent content to the smackdown ring. Congratulations, Digg, on winning this match up. Until next time.
Live Sync: https://sync.live.com/clientdownload.aspx?ibm=10
Live Sync is a wonderful tool if you need to share files with someone or if you want a hands off backup of important files. Live Sync allows you to synchronize foldersbetween two computers (Windows XP and later and Mac OSX up to 10.5). The computers can be on a local network or just connected to the internet. This is a great way to share photos with relatives or files with other people. I personally use it to synchronize a folder full of Keepers on my desktop with a folder on my backup server so if my computer ever crashed after I added the document but before the nightly backup could run, I still wouldn’t lose the files.
Security essentials: http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/
Microsoft has realized the necessity of antivirus software on windows PCs and has stepped up with the free Security Essentials. Security Essentials provides protection against viruses, spyware, rootkits and Trojans. This is a huge step in the right direction by providing this service free of charge. Keep in mind, that like all anti-viruses, they are typically only effective in telling you AFTER you’ve been infected, so practice safe surfing habits like not downloading from questionable sites, don’t open e-mail attachments, and make sure you are running as a limited user on your computer and not running as administrator.
Microsoft has a history of releasing non-supported PowerTools and Power Toys that their developers create because there is a need. These are not publicized formally nor are they supported by Microsoft, but there are some gems.
Color Control Panel Applet: Being an amateur photographer, being able to control how the computer displays colors and be able to control it from the screen all the way to the printer is very important. This powertoy does just that in one centralized area.
SyncToy: If you have multiple copies of files or need a simple way to compare files, Sync Toy was built to help copy, move and synchronize various files like photos, docuemtns, etc.
RAW Image Thumbnailer Viewer: As a photographer, I like to shoot my DSLR to capture RAW images. The issue with RAW images is that many softwares can’t display the RAW files natively. This is where the RAW Image Thumbnailer Viewer comes in. it allows you to see thumbnails, previews, EXIF data and even print RAW images you may not otherwise be able to see.
Alt-Tab Replacement: If you multitask and have many files open at once, you may use the Alt-Tab key combination to cycle through the open windows. The Alt-Tab Replacement PowerToy beefs up this ability and included page previews and the application icon.
Tweak UI: By far, my favorite of the PowerToys. TweakUI has been around for years allowing people to manipulate the user interface of Windows to better suit your needs. Tweak UI is a must have for me when I set up a new computer.
Image Resizer: Why open up Photoshop or some other powerful image editing tool if all you need is to resize the image to e0mail or post somewhere? With a right-click, you can resize one or many images.
Webcam Timershot: This PowerToy allows you to set up a time lapse photo using your webcam. Maybe you want to capture traffic or the weather moving in. The Timershot tool is a simple way to take snapshots at specified intervals.
As Twitter has matured, the Twitter clients have appeared, and they have flourished. Being a twitter addict, I felt compelled to check into some of these for you so you wouldn’t have to install them only to find out that they are incredibly painful to use.
Here’s my list of Twitter Clients:
The Web interface : (http://www.twitter.com) It would be a disservice to leave out the twitter.com site itself. In fact, many people only use the web interface to update their tweets. It’s simple, it’s fast, and it gets the job done.
TweetDeck: (http://tweetdeck.com) TweetDeck is the dark alpha dog of twitter clients. It is feature rich with the ability to monitor multiple twitter accounts, Facebook,, and MySpace. You can also quickly see replies, direct messages, topics, saved searches, and it has a built-in spam monitor.
Twhirl: (http://www.twhirl.org) The cheery twitter client, twhirl is a bright, well designed interface that allows you handle all your usual twiter needs, but also includes the ability to send photos to TwitPic, automatically shorten long URLs, and cross post to Jaiku.
Twitterfeed: (http://www.twitterfeed.com) Sign up and enter your blog RSS feed and Twitterfeed will publish your blog posts onto your twitterfeed. You choose how often it published the new blog content.
Tweetie: (http://www.atebits.com/tweetie-iphone/) Strictly for iPhones, Macs and iPod Touches. It has a super clean look and lets you post to multiple Twitter accounts. It allows you to follow tweets, replies, direct messages and trends on Twitter. It is super easy to set up and will help tweeting on your iPhone, Mac or iPod Touch easier and more powerful.
Twitterberry: (http://www.orangatame.com/products/twitterberry/) one of the best twitter applications for the Blackberry platform. Twitterberry separates the replies, direct messages and the posting tof tweets, but makes it very usable on the Blackberry. Currently there is not integration to TwitPic within the application, but that would be a nice addition¢â‚¬â€(wink wink).
Ping.fm: (http://www.ping.fm/) What Ping.gm brings to the table is how it centralizes updates of Twitter, but also Facebook, Jaiku, Bebo, Friendster, and Myspace. The interface is simple and straight forward. I’ve experienced a bit of a lag on the cross-posting, but the ease of use to update all those sites at once may be enough to lure you over to this site.
HootSuite: (http://hootsuite.com/) Tweetdeck can tend to be a bet wide especially on netbooks, but that’s where HootSuite comes in. It allows you to create custom columns to store searches so you can keep an eye on people talking about your store or brand name. HootSuite was one of the first to incorporate multiple twitter accounts as well.
Seesmic: (http://seesmic.com/) Available in a web application, a desktop application and rumor has it, a mobile application soon. Seesmic is one of the dominant twitter clients and it’s easy to see why. They are continually pushing the envelope of features including a single column interface that resembles the familiar e-mail interface. They also allow an unlimited number of columns to be added, a simple way to watch search terms, direct messages, and @ replies. They included all the follow stats and complete profile view of your followers. Not bad for a company that started as a vlogging site. Seesmic is making tweeting on any platform easier and more intuitive.
Destroy Twitter: (https://destroytwitter.com/) An unusual name for an application, but in a sea of weird twitter clients, it needs to be this odd to stand out. After all, it would be a little different if you were building an application for your Mac called Kill Apple. I am digressing. Destroy Twitter is eerily similar to Tweetdeck (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?) What appears to be Destroy Twitter’s strong suit is configuration. You can choose when to ping twitter, font size, column size and a plethora of other settings to make your tweeting more enjoyable
Every person has different likes and dislikes, but if I were to recommend three to look into, they would be Tweetdeck, Seesmic, and HootSuite for their attention to detail, ease of use and over all usefulness in daily tweeting. No go forth and tweet!
As web developers, keeping up with the web browsers is an ever-moving target. We write the cleanest, most universal code we can, but unfortunately not all browsers were created equally. Even when we’ve created what is ostensibly the best application we can, we must still run the site through some testing to ensure browser compatibility.
I always have the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari installed on my development machine, but depending on the client, you may need to ensure other browsers.
Thankfully there are applications out there devoted to this.
BrowserCam (http://www.browsercam.com) is another valuable service for web development. BroswerCam allows you to test your site similarly to Browser Shots, but BrowserCam is not free. You can sign up for a free trial that will let you see the screen captures from the various browsers for only 24 hours and you can only do that 200 times before having to pay. The interface isn’t as streamlined as Browser Shots, but BrowserCam allows you to choose the Operating System specifically along with the browser. So for instance, if a customer is having issues running Firefox 1.5.0 on a Windows 2000 machine without Adobe Flash installed, you can emulate that exactly on BrowserCam. You can also denote the screen shot format (JPG, PNG, or BMP), the screen resolution, and even if the capture will be just the browser or the entire desktop. This service is incredibly useful while troubleshooting specific situations and issues without having to build a system on which to test..
Lastly, if you would rather have 307 different browsers on your system, the Browser Archive is there for you (http://browsers.evolt.org/). The Browser archive is a collection of every browser and version you have heard of and many you haven’t. If you are looking for an old version of Netscape Navigator or the kid-friendly browser Surf Monkey, then this site has the installer for you. Download the installer and install the browser and get ready to take a trip back in time!
Whichever you prefer, it’s always best to test your sites across multiple platforms and browsers prior to the launch and with the help of these sites, hopefully that process just got a bit simpler!
Halloween is coming soon, so now is the time to get your technology ready and maybe express some of your geekiness. Besides the staples of candy corn, plastic orange pumpkins with black toothy grins, and kids dressed like Spiderman, here’s eleven items to put the geek back into your Halloween.
- Turn your monitor into a strobe light. http://www.bobshowto.com/fun/strobe-light.htm
Maybe it’s a laptop, or a big projector, get a great spooky effect in your house with just your monitor and this web site. This would be perfect for a haunted data center for the co-workers to walk through!
- Decorate your workstation for the spooky season with this USB powered decoration set. http://www.thisnext.com/item/C5EB1B00/BC37BE2A/USB-Halloween-Decoration-Kit
Complete with seasonal mouse pad, lights to hang on the monitor or possibly your collection of action figures in your cubicle.
- Build your own talking skull. http://www.kickthefog.com/talking_skull.htm Everything you need to build your own creepy talking skull. This is an involved build, but the result is one that will make all your geeky friends drool with jealousy.
- Create your own Jack o Lantern carving pattern. http://www.canadianliving.com/crafts/other_crafts/digital_crafts_jack_o_lantern_templates.php That’s right. Want to carve Tux or maybe a portrait of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates? Follow these instructions and you will have a 100% original pumpkin on your porch this season! Here are a few of the geekier Jack-o-lanterns I’ve seen decorating the porches of probable geeks.
5. Use a voice changer. http://www.screamingbee.com/product/download.aspx Sure there are great toy versions of this technology, but here’s a free piece of software that will morph your voice into something a little creepier!
6. Dress up like Master Chief from Halo. http://halloweenaddict.com/2009/08/halo-master-chief-costume.html Who wouldn’t want to be master Chief from Halo? Hop on your Warthog, although it does looks more like a Puma and go blast some enemies. Afterwards, kick back and watch a little Red Vs. Blue.
7. Dress up as Pixels. Get a bunch of square boxes and spray paint them different colors. Walk next to each other all night. Try to look Jaggy.
8. Get answers from the Beyond on the internet. http://www.witchboard.com/online-witchboard/Online Ouija-like board for your amusement and Halloween fun! Ask questions like What is the next Apple Announcement and see what the digital spirits have to say. Hopefully it won’t be a Null Pointer Exception.
9. Online Trick or Treating? http://doorlesschambers.com organizes online trick or treating for virtual Disney-themed goodies every year from October 25 through the 31st. It may not fill up your pillowcase, but it might be just what you need while you are stuck answering tech support phone calls on October 31st.
10. Make your own real Spiderman web slinger. http://www.instructables.com/id/Creepy_Cobweb_Shooter/?contestId=V9T8TI4FLROLS8R Instructables does it again with a great video and set of instructions on creating a webslinger. Sure you need an air compressor, but what Spiderman fan didn’t want their own web shooter?
11. EVERYTHING Halloween Online. http://www.halloween-online.com/ Buy a prop coffin, check out some ghoulish recipes ( I like the Skull Jell-O mold), find some costume ideas, check out some Halloween games to play with your friends, and even Halloween party planning ideas and suggestions. This site has everything you need for a fun and safe Halloween.
Growing up watching cartoons, watching the Jetsons made me want to live in the future. All the flying cars, talking robots, and new fangled contraptions were in our future. Now as I look around at all the technologies, it seems that Hanna/Barbara might have gotten a few things right with their farcical cartoons! Here are a few examples:
Workstations. George Jetson is often pictured at his desk with multiple flat monitors around him while he twiddles away on a bank of buttons.
Video Conferencing. The computers often show video of his boss, Mr. Spacely as they talk back and forth, usually involving George getting fired. I wonder if Web Ex knows about this footage?
Moving Sidewalks. In many of the episodes, the characters don’t walk, but rather step on a moving sidewalk, much like what’s employed at many airports across the globe.
Video Games. Elroy played on an Envirosimulator much akin to today’s super realistic video games. Even George played cards with a robot for fun.
Robots doing work. In almost every episode of the Jetsons, there was at least one robot accomplishing some task. Sure we have industrial robots building cars and welding meta. Even robots vacuuming our carpets, but none of them talk back with artificial intelligence.yet.
Fooderackacycle. Sure we don’t have robots making our food yet, but we do have machines dispensing it¢â‚¬â€vending machines. And not just the old vending machines where food drops to the bottom but ones where arms retrieve the requested snack and even heat it up automatically upon purchase.
Super fast mail. In some of the episodes, they could mail something and have it delivered almost instantly. Sure it was a physical envelope, but today’s e-mail is the next best thing.
Virtual Pets. In several episodes, they have pets that aren’t animals at all, but interact like it. We have those too, called Webkinz and other online pets for kids. Sure it’s not a hologram of the pet, but it is indeed virtual.
What is even more exciting is looking at the technology that is still in the prototype stages. The things that will become part of our lives in the next few years that is distinctly Jetsonian in nature. For example, the ability to carry the communication devices with you. Sure, the iPhone and Blackberry are no folding car that fits in your pocket, but they can call a taxi, and track your whereabouts.
The Microsoft surface technology is another whiz-bang gizmo the Jetsons only wished they had. Handling data not with buttons but with fingers on a shiny black surface. This is our future.
Sure we don’t live in platforms high in the sky, parachute to our flying cars or use jetpacks to get to work, but we are getting closer and closer to the Jetsons every day. With the evolution of the digital camera, MP3 players holding thousands of songs, and the internet allowing us to communicate in dramatically new ways ala Twitter, Facebook, Brightkite, etc. , the future is looking even better than it did when we were dreaming of robots getting us ready in the morning and reading us books. Now if we could just figure out this flying car thing, I think we’d be set.
I’m a big fan of FREE STUFF, so it should be no surprise that I gravitate towards free software. Sure much of it is junkie, but there are some realy diamonds out there that haven’t hit the mainstream yet. Here’s my favorite 10.
1. Logmein (https://secure.logmein.com)
Ever find yourself away from home and wishing you could e-mail yourself something? Or maybe you have a mother-in-law who lives 4 states away and is always having computer problems, and instead of loading up the kids in the family trickster for a marriage-trying trip, you could just log in to her computer remotelyÂ¦.without her needing to do anything? This is where Logmein comes in. There are lots of products out there that will do this, but very few will do all these things as well as Logmein ds for free.
2. Mesh (http://www.mesh.com)
Microsoft has a knack of not promoting some of the apps that they offer. Mesh is one of those apps. Another computer sharing application, but Mesh displays all the computers in a 3-D rotating ring and also offers a Web DesktopÂ that syncs with all the computers on your Mesh. There is a promise of making Mesh work on Macs, but I haven’t yet seen it work. Mesh is super responsive and I really like how it feels while using it! The interface is clean and intuitive and I think the reason Microsoft ds not promote it is too many people would use it!
Yet another non-marketed gem from Microsoft. Photostory 3 is one of the easiest ways to create a very professional photo slideshow complete with background music (MP3 or you can create your own with the built-in music generator) and narration. The application is super easy to use and the results are far superior that some softwares that I’ve paid to use. The only downfall is that it dsn’t have a built-in burning application to burn the slideshow to CD or DVD.
4. Orb (http://www.orb.com)
Like many people, I don’t get to stay at home with my vault of audio and video goodness at my disposal. This is where Orb steps in. Orb allows a simple way to put your audio, photos and video online and accessible to your little antsy fingertips. One of my favorite features is the ability to stream webcams live on the internet, so if I miss my dog, I can log in and see and hear him. Very slick and very easy to set up!
5. Dropbox (http://www.getdropbox.com/)
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a storage cloud of your own to store items and further more wouldn’t it be nice if it synced with your other computers? That’s Dropbox. I use it to store keepersÂ or documents and small apps that I want in multiple places or to ensure I don’t lose it. Dropbox installs easily and creates a folder on your computer. Drag the files you want to sync into the Dropbox and dropbox takes care of the rest. All the other computers you log into the dropbox with can now access and upload their own files. A great solution for simple collaboration or small off site back ups.
6. MWSnap (http://www.mirekw.com/winfreeware/mwsnap.html)
If you need to do lots of screenshots for websites or manuals, this is a great tool. It has a nice zoom tool to enlarging parts of the screen to draw focus to it, a ruler for measuring the size of items in the shot, and can export in BMP, JPG, TIFF, PNG and GIF.
7. Camstudio (http://sourceforge.net/projects/camstudio/files/)
If you need to create a screencast, this a a great free tool. Comparable to Camtasia or Adobe’s Captivate, it’s not as feature-rich as those, but it will get the job done. It will record whatever you do on your screen and produce and AVI or SWF output. Plus you can narrate as you go through a microphone. This is the easiest way to convey complex techniques or just a way of communicating step by step instructions.
8. DimDim (http://www.dimdim.com)
A tool similar to WebEx, DimDim allows you to create free webinar-style sessions where you can share screens, whiteboards, presentation, web pages and even voice and video. I have been super impressed with DimDim in that it supports up to 20 people, it dsn’t require any installation and it handles the voice and video, unlike some other pay-for softwares. Sure, it isn’t as ubiquitious as WebEx (I’m certainly not going to tell someone to DimDim meÂ, but for free, this is a wonderful offering.
9. Ning (http://www.ning.com)
If you’ve ever wanted a web site for your church group, scouting group, or maybe even class reunion, then Ning is the place to go. It’s a DYI social networking site that allows you to roll your own blog/forum/event feed/calendar/whatever. I’ve used Ning for several side projects to collaborate with large and small groups of people. I also use Ning for a special interest web site-BisManPhoto.com, which is a site devoted to camera lovers in the Bismarck/Mandan North Dakota area. The sites scale wonderfully and gives me the freedom to worry about content rather than functionality.
10. Qik (http://qik.com)
Everyone carries their cellphones with them all the time. Ever wanted to stream live video from your phone? That’s what Qik ds and it ds it beautifully. Great for budding independent journalists wanting to stream live to the web (and post an alert on twitter simultaneously) and it’s equally great to share part of your vacation with people at home. The stream is recorded from your phone and saved for posterity so people who couldn’t see the live stream can watch it archived on the Qik site.
We all have at least one. Those sometimes temperamental machines that sit atop our desks and churn out page after page of invaluable data. Our printers. If you are like me, you have a love/hate relationship with these little boxes of joy. They allow you to make cyber material physical with a click of a button, but at times they like to get jammed with paper, run out of ink at the least opportune time, or possible just stop working altogether.
The printer companies know of this love/hate relationship and at times they may exploit it.
For instance, did you know that printer ink is $8000 per gallon? That makes the high cost of fuel or milk seem fairly trivial. Why is it so expensive? I wish I could say it was because it uses some rare trace element or requires special handling, but the real reason is because they can charge that much. That’s right! HP is a huge company and over 50% of their operating profits are from ink and toner for printers.
Take a look at Kodak. They have broken away (a little) from the pack and decided to not gouge us AS MUCH. So instead of $20 per cartridge, they are selling their ink for $10 for black and $15 for color. Still expensive, but not AS expensive.
The printer companies do say that you should only use their ink with their printers. I tend to think of this like the shampoo companies that say, For best results, use with the SHAMpu brand conditioner. It’s just another way to make more money, but the brand inks do tend to be thicker and of better quality than the third-party inks.
Another wonderful idea printer companies have come up with is setting expiration dates on their inks that will either stop the printer from using that ink on a certain date or make a huge fuss about the expiration date passing. Supposedly this is because the printer companies cannot guarantee the quality of ink after a certain shelf life, so instead of telling you that, they can just make that cartridge unusable now. Why? So you have to go buy more ink, of course! It’s sort of like the disposable razor industry where they practically give you the razor, but then gouge you for the blades. Maybe the razors have a little strip on them that turns from blue to white when it’s time to replace it, but they don’t stop the razor from functioning! Come on printer companies!
Many of the printer companies have been looking into the DMCA or the Digital Millennium Copyrights Act, the same law that prevents us from making copies of VHS tapes and DVDs, they want to apply to their printers, so you can’t use the cheaper third-party inks. Some possibilities include a proprietary chip in the cartridges that will allow the printers to work. If you or a third-party ink company bypasses this chip check, then you are violating the DMCA and can be prosecuted like the criminal that you are.
Lastly, did you know that everything you print from your printer may have a unique identifier on it? An identifier that could be traced back to your printer and only your printer? It’s a micro-printing technology some printers employ to help thwart money counterfeiters. That way any funny money printed will have this printer fingerprint on it and can be conclusively linked to a suspected counterfeiter.
What can you do about any of these items? Most of the time, absolutely nothing. We, as a society, will pay the exorbitant prices they extort from us and may be forced to use their brand no matter what. Perhaps they should refer to them as the Printer Cartel? Don’t tell them I said that.