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Scott's Column
New Chain Saw, Printer, Camera, UNIX, etc

May 1, 2000
By Scott Lewis

As the summer approaches we are getting ready to put our house up for sale and clear our land for the new house. Also, UNIX... the operating system you love to hate, and my HP All-in-One dies.

HP 710 All-in-One (RIP)

Let’s start with the bad news. My Hewlett Packard OfficeJet 710, All-in-One printer/fax/copier/scanner had its system board go out. To make matters really terrible it was 13 months old, just one month beyond the warrantee. I was quoted a price of $150 just for the part. Labor would have increased that cost.

The main reason we liked the 710 series was that it had the fax built-in. It sends and receives faxes without being connected to a PC. My wife uses this quite a bit, and was the deciding factor in getting this particular printer. Copying is equally easy without a PC, and includes color.

The original fear of all-in-one devices burned me, if any of it breaks you lose all your devices. So now I was in the market for a color printer, fax machine, and scanner.

Fortunately I still have my HP LaserJet 4L printer. It is a little slow by today’s standards, but it is bulletproof. I just bought my second toner cartridge for it. It is over 6 years old. I don’t remember exactly how old it is, but I had it when we were living in an apartment 6 years ago. That is about 3 year to a toner cartridge. Not bad.

My misfortune with the HP 710 has not deterred me from HP’s products. Overall they have been the most reliable devices I have ever used. I guess they all can’t be perfect.

When we started looking at printers HP’s new Photosmart printers caught our eye. They accept Compact Flash memory cards from digital cameras. We decided to go this route and bought the HP P1000 Photosmart printer. We also picked up a Kodak DC280 digital camera.

Read next month’s Feature Article for a complete review of each device. For now, they are both very good. Highly recommended.

I still don’t have a scanner. Someday I will get one. I will be looking at flat bed scanners that use a USB connection, has at least 600x600 optical resolution, and has a one button-scanning feature.

I will also be pricing stand alone fax machines. When I switched to a cable modem I gave my 28.8 modem away. So I can’t fax with my computer.

Drop me a line if you have any suggestions for a fax machine or scanner.

Clearing The Land

I made my first power tool purchase for the new house. I bought a chainsaw from Sears. It is just a basic chainsaw. I didn’t need some major industrial strength saw for the size of the trees on my land. All the trees are small, and very tightly clustered. I bought a Craftsman chainsaw with a 16" bar/chain and 36cc engine. It works fine, and should last years with how little I will use it after I finish clearing the land.

Pictures of the land will be coming soon.

Preparing To Sell

My wife and I made a list of things we need to accomplish on our existing house to make it as presentable as possible for prospective buyers. Some of these include fixing the gate and a portion on the fence in the backyard, patch a couple of holes in my computer room where we used to hang a TV on the wall, paint some interior ceilings, power wash the back of our house, etc.

These are mostly time consuming items, and require little cash outlay. They will be important when showing the house to potential buyers.

We will be moving in with my wife’s parents while we are building our new house. This will save us a significant amount of money during the 6 - 9 months it takes to get our house built.

Since we will need a storage unit while "shacking up" with my in-laws we decided to rent one now. We plan to put as much as possible into the storage unit even before putting the house on the market. The idea is to make the house look bigger by having less in it.

This is especially important for closets. All of our closets have built-in shoe racks. However, you can’t see them though all the clutter. By moving all of our clothes, except the essentials, to a storage unit we will leave the impression that the closets are large and useful.

We will also move a few pieces of furniture into storage to help the rooms look larger. Plus I plan on removing almost everything from the garage except one lawnmower, the weed eater (mostly used for edging), my main tool box, and a broom and rake. This will allow me the minimum equipment to handle tasks around the house and maintaining the appearance of the yard.

I plan on creating a play list on my CD changer for when our real estate agent is showing the house. Kept on low volume it helps make the experience of looking at a house more enjoyable. My wife is also going to be baking a LOT of cookies during those times. The smell of fresh cookies left out on the counter can be a real enticement. Anything we can do to make it easy to sell the house.

We will be having a typical garage sale to unload as much as possible before placing the house on the market. If it doesn’t sell it goes off to the storage unit or into the trash.

I hope my next report will include telling you about our initial work with our designer. We are still shooting for a 2800 - 3000 sq. ft. house. The basics include: master bedroom downstairs, three bedrooms and a game room upstairs, family room, study (computer room), formal dinning room, kitchen and 3 car garage.

I was going to look into what it would take to put a lift in the garage. Fortunately, my brother-in-law (he is my contractor and is building his own house next door) is going to build an external workshop garage. He is more than willing to build it to accept a lift. I can hardly wait.

I Hate UNIX

We have been doing a lot of server consolidation lately. I took it upon myself to do the entire work of configuring our development server. It would not impact production, and end users never see it. It was the perfect opportunity to learn.

I hate UNIX. All our servers are running AIX, IBM’s flavor of UNIX. I hate a case-sensitive operating system. And vi... what psychopath created that? vi is the common editor on UNIX. It is horrible. I have heard all the statements... "it is easy to use, not easy to learn," etc. But that doesn’t cut it. In today’s day there is little reason to have an editor that doesn’t even recognize the arrow keys and the PgUp/PgDn keys. Truly a useless tool.

I usually end up FTPing files to my workstation and editing them in Notepad. At least it is easy to use if extremely limited in functionality. However, sometimes problems arise doing this. But I am trying to learn vi. I even bought a book on it. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t work though osmosis.

Conclusion

I have been playing with the digital camera, and expect to start adding many more pictures to this site. Also, for those that follow my Car Corner column, I am trying to find a really big car show to attend this summer. If anyone knows of one in the central Texas area (Dallas, Houston, Austin, or San Antonio), please let me know. I want to strut the digital camera though one of those.

Stay tuned.

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