Saturday, June 2, 2018

High Contrast: Google Chrome accessibility extension

Anyone who needs (or wants) the ability to quickly invert web page colors -- black backgrounds to white, dark text to light, etc. -- should check out Google's High Contrast Chrome extension.

This free extension is simple to use and works very well.  It allows you to change web page coloring with either a keyboard shortcut or a few quick clicks.

When you first install the extension, it will by default invert the colors on all web page that you visit.  This setting may not be desirable, in which case you can easily disable it.  On any web page where High Contrast inverted the colors:

- Click the extension's icon (the half-black/half-white circle).
- Select Normal.
- Select Set as default scheme.

Once you do that, web pages will load as the normally do.  You can select which pages you want the color inverted for by pressing Shift F12 or by selecting Inverted Color from the extension's list of settings.  Other options are available as well, which can make web browsing easier on the eyes: Increased Contrast, Grayscale, Inverted Grayscale, and Yellow on Black.

One of High Contrast's cool features is that it remembers which customizations you've selected for which sites.  Going back to a site later will load the color scheme as you specified it last time.  Different pages on the same site (i.e. and will have the same settings applied, but third-level domains won't share the same settings as their parents (i.e. and

To toggle this extension on or off at any time, press Shift F11 or select Disable/Enable from the extension's menu.  The extension works well for text and background colors, but it has mixed results with photos.

Overall, High Contrast (available from the Google Web Store) is a beneficial accessibility extension that will improve your web browsing experience by allowing you to adjust color and contrast on any web page.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

How to see what Facebook knows about you

It shouldn't come as a surprise to any Facebook user that the company collects as much information as it can about you.  If you're curious what Facebook knows about you, you can request a copy of your Facebook archive.

Your Facebook archive includes a lot of information: your posts, your photos, your friends, your connected apps, your messages, and more.  It's a good idea to check your Facebook archive once in a while.  In addition to being informed about what you're sharing, it can also alert you to potential hacks or compromises of your account.

To request your Facebook archive, log in to your Facebook account click on the downward triangle in the upper right corner.  A dropdown menu will appear; select Settings.

In the middle of the page you should see the list of general account settings.  Beneath that list, click on the "Download a copy" link.  On the page that loads, click the "Start My Archive" button.

You'll receive an email confirming that you've requested a copy of your Facebook archive.  Some time after that (could be a few minutes or much longer, depending on how large your archive is and various other factors) you'll receive another email from Facebook, saying that your archive is ready for download.  Click on the link contained in the email.

A Facebook tab will open in your web browser.  (If you're not already logged in, do it now, then click the link again.)  You'll see a green button that says "Download Archive."  Click this button to save the archive (as a zip file) to your computer.

You now have a copy of your Facebook data.  You can unzip the folder and double click the index.htm file, or select each of the various data pages individually.

The index file shows your profile information, groups, and interests.  Select a link on the left side to bring up other information that Facebook stores about you -- ads you've clicked on, photos you've posted, etc.

Of particular interest from a privacy standpoint is the "Advertisers with your contact info" section on the ads page.  From a security standpoint, you might want to check the "Active Sessions" and "Account Activity" headings on the security page.  If you suspect a breach of your account, take a look at the "Logins and Logouts" and "IP Addresses" sections for relevant details.

Scrolling through this data dump once in a while can be a good thing.  It shows you what Facebook knows about you, but it also serves as a reminder that what goes on the internet stays on the internet.

The link to your archive will stay active for a few days.  After that, to see your data again, just put in a new request.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

How to contact Comcast customer support

Historically, customer service is not an area where Comcast has excelled.  (If you've been a Comcast customer for any length of time, you probably already know that.)

When you need help, just getting in touch with Comcast customer service can be tricky.  No published support email address and long wait times on the phone can easily discourage already-frustrated customers.  Comcast's support page only shows two options for contacting them: chat and requesting a callback -- neither of which is always ideal.

For convenience, here are multiple ways for contacting Comcast customer support:

If you choose to request a phone call, you'll be prompted to log into your Comcast account once you click the link above (if you're not already logged in).

According to this Comcast forum thread, Comcast does not offer customer support via email.  However, some users have reported an (unverified) email address that may go to Comcast customer support:

If you choose to contact Comcast support via Twitter, they won't always respond quickly, but they do respond.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

LI Feed Hider: Chrome extension to hide LinkedIn feed

There are a couple of Chrome extensions in the Chrome Web Store that used to hide LinkedIn's feed, but -- apparently due to a site update -- don't work anymore.  LI Feed Hider is a new Chrome extension that hides the LinkedIn feed as soon as the page loads.

It works automatically, so once you install the extension (which you can do from the Chrome Web Store) you don't have to do anything else.  It will launch on the main LinkedIn page when you're logged in and hide the feed in the center column.

If you experience any bugs or problems when using this extension, add a comment here (with as many details as possible).

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Ricoh troubleshooting: How to fix a scan folder not found error

There are many possible reasons why you may not be able to scan to a folder from a Ricoh multifunction copier or scanner.  Here are some of the more common reasons:

- The folder that you are trying to scan to isn't shared.  Check the folder's share settings.

- The user account you are using to authenticate does not have rights to access that folder (possibly someone changed their password recently).  Update the password in the copier's address book (User Tools/Counter > System Settings > Administrator Tools > Address Book Management).

- There is a network connection problem somewhere between the copier and the computer.  Try to ping the copier from the computer and vice versa, then narrow down the problem by checking any intermediate devices (switches, hubs, routers, etc.).

- There is a hardware device or software program preventing the copier from reaching that folder (i.e. a firewall, anti-virus program, security suite, router, etc.).  Check any hardware/software security settings that may be preventing the connection.  You may have to set up an exception in your firewall.

- The copier and the computer are not in the same workgroup/domain.  Change the copier's workgroup or domain to match the computer you're trying to scan to.

- If you are using an IP address for the computer instead of a host name, the computer's IP address has changed.  Update the IP address, or change the destination path to use the computer's host name instead of IP address.

- If you are using the computer's host name in the scan folder path, either the host name may have been changed, the DNS record might be corrupted, or the DNS server might be down.  Confirm that the host name is correct, and if it still won't connect, replace the host name with the computer's IP address in the scan folder path.

- The copier's SMB protocol has been disabled (User Tools/Counter > System Settings > Interface Settings > Effective Protocols).

If scanning to a folder was never fully set up, you can find instructions for doing so here:

- How to link to a network share folder from a Ricoh Aficio MP series copier

Saturday, February 3, 2018

TrumpTalk Alexa skill

Love him or hate him, President Trump has said some outrageous things.  He's made ludicrous promises, tried to pass off numerous falsehoods as truth, and offended much of the public.

Hear some of his greatest hits, as recited by Alexa.  Just ask Alexa to enable the TrumpTalk skill, then say any of the following phrases:
  • "Alexa, run the best words"
  • "Alexa, open the best words"
  • "Alexa, launch the best words"
 Alexa will pick a random Donald Trump quote from the TrumpTalk repertoire and recite it, with characteristic enthusiasm and passion.  The skill currently contains 75 classic Trump quotes to randomly choose from, with more added often.

Friday, February 2, 2018

How to get into service mode on a Ricoh Aficio copier or printer

NOTE: Before entering service mode, be very careful not to adjust any values that you are not familiar with.  You can take down the whole copier just by changing a few numbers or settings.  It's best to have a Ricoh-trained technician adjust any service mode settings.

For most modern Ricoh copiers (i.e. Aficio MP 6003):

To enter service mode, press the yellow Reset button, then 8-0-6-1-8-2.  Then hold down the red Clear/Stop button for about 5 seconds.  The screen will shift to a menu.  Select the first option in the menu: System/Copy SP Mode.

For most Ricoh copiers older than an "03" model (i.e. Aficio MP 4002):

To enter service mode, press the yellow Clear button, then 1-0-7.  Then hold down the red Stop button for about 5 seconds.  The screen will shift to a menu.  Select the first option in the menu: System/Copy SP Mode.

For most Ricoh printers without a number pad (i.e. SP 4310):

To enter service mode, hold down the up and down arrow buttons at the same time, for about 5 or 6 seconds, then release them and press the Enter button.