Friday, January 30, 2015

How to restart the print spooler service in Windows XP

There are many different reasons why you may not be able to print from your computer. Sometimes, if everything else is fine and you can't figure out why you can't print, you may just need to restart your print spooler.

The print spooler is the program that takes your print job and sends it to the printer. If this program freezes or gets stuck on a certain job, you can restart it to get your computer printing again.  Here are instructions for how to restart the print spooler in Windows XP.

Press the Start button, and when the Start menu appears, click on Run. (If you don't see the Run option, skip to the next paragraph). In the Run box, type "services.msc". The Services window will open, showing all of the services that are currently installed on your computer. Some of these services are running and some have probably been stopped.

If you don't have the Run option on your Start menu, you can get to the Services window a couple of different ways. You can right click on My Computer from the Start menu (or from your desktop) and select Manage, then when the Computer Management window appears, click on Services and Applications in the left pane of the window and then in the right pane double click on Services. Another way to get to the Services window is to go through the Start menu; click on All Programs, then Accessories, then Command Prompt. When the Command Prompt window opens, type "services.msc" and then press <ENTER>.

Scroll down the list until you see "Print Spooler". Click on it to highlight it. A couple of options should appear in the middle of the window. One of these options is "Restart the service". (If you don't see the "Restart" option, then your print spooler is currently stopped for some reason. Click on the "Start" option to run the print spooler, then try to print.)  Click on Restart. A window with a status bar will appear, as Windows attempts to stop and then restart the print spooler. Once this action has been completed, the status bar window will disappear.

You can now close the Services window and try to print again. Hopefully your print job will print without incident now, but if you still have an issue with printing, you can rule out the print spooler as the cause of the problem.

(Originally published on, January 2014)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

How to take apart a Honeywell HCM-890 / HCM-890B humidifier

Over time, humidifiers tend to collect dust and dirt inside them.  The fans, covers, and water reservoirs can get dirty if they are never cleaned, which reduces the quality of the air and water vapor being put out by the humidifer.  Cleaning out the humidifier is part of the preventive maintenance that it needs periodically, just like changing the filter.

Humidifers can be tricky to take apart.  A lot of times the screws or tabs are hidden.  To take apart a Honeywell HCM-890 (white) or HCM-890B (black) humidifier, follow the steps below.

First, unplug the humidifier from the outlet so it doesn't accidentally turn on.  Then remove the main humidifer unit (the big part with the control knob) by lifting it straight up.  (The cord will come with it.)  Turn the unit upside down so you are looking at the inside.

Remove the control knob by pulling it straight out.  There is one screw holding the motor assembly inside the cover; remove this screw with a Phillips screwdriver.  It will need to be a screwdriver with a long, thin shaft in order to reach the screw.  A #1 Phillips screwdriver will work best, but a #2 driver should also do the trick.  If you have a screwdriver with a magnetic tip, you won't have to worry about dropping and losing the screw.

On the other side of the main motor unit, opposite the screw, there is a tab holding the motor unit to the cover.  Pop this tab out to free the motor unit.  With the tab popped free, you can remove the motor unit from the cover (just be careful of the power cord).

Now you can clean the guts of the humidifier.  The cover can be wiped down with a damp cloth, and canned air works great for cleaning off the switch, wires, and circuit board.  The canned air may clean some of the dust off of the fan and vent, but to really get them clean, you'll probably need a damp lint-free cloth or rag.

Once you've cleaned the unit, let it dry before reassembling.  Push the motor unit back into the cover housing, making sure the tab pops into place, then reattach the screw.  Push the control knob back onto its shaft (it should only go on one way) then you can turn the unit right-side up and place it back on the humidifier base.  The next time you turn it on, you'll get a purer, cleaner vapor.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

How to change the IP address on a Ricoh Aficio C811 printer

With the use of a DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server, you can automate the administration of IP addresses for printers. However, you may want your printer to have a static IP address. To set up a static IP address on a Ricoh Aficio C811 color printer, follow the steps below.  (These steps will also work on many other Ricoh printer models.)

1. When the printer is powered on and ready, press the Menu button.
2. Using the up or down arrows, scroll down through the menu to Host Interface and press the OK button.
3. Scroll down to Network and press the OK button.
4. Machine IPv4 Address is the first option on the network menu; click the OK button when it is highlighted.
5. You will see two options -- Auto-Obtain (DHCP) and Specify, and below them will be three tabs -- IP Add., Subnet M, and Gateway. Scroll down so that Specify is highlighted, and then press the arrow button below the left-most tab (IP Add.).
6. Using the up and down arrows to change the numeric value, enter the IP address you want to use for the printer. Use the side arrows to go to the next part of the address once you've entered the value for the current octet.
7. Once you've entered the complete IP address, press the OK button. (If you want to cancel out without saving the new address, press the Escape button instead.)
8. If you need to specify a subnet mask and gateway address, you can enter those values in the same way, by selecting each of the corresponding tabs on the IPv4 menu (Subnet M and Gateway, respectively).
9. After you've entered all of the information and saved each address, make sure Specify is highlighted and press the OK button. You should see "Programmed" displayed on the screen.
10. Turn the machine off and then back on to apply the changes and reset the network connection.

(Originally posted on, March 2011)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How to change text size in Internet Explorer

Some web sites use larger text while others use small, hard-to-read text. To change the size of text that appears on a web page in Internet Explorer, follow one of the two procedures below.

To change text size:

To make the text that is displayed in your web browser larger or smaller, click View on Internet Explorer's menu bar. From the drop-down menu, select Text Size. The five choices for text size will appear: Largest, Larger, Medium, Smaller, and Smallest. Medium is selected by default, but you can choose the size that you want. To change to a different size, just go back to the View menu and choose a new size.

Internet Explorer saves the selection that you make. If you load a new web page, or close and reopen your browser, the text size will remain at the level that you've chosen, until you choose differently.

To zoom:

Another way to alter text size is to use the Zoom feature. Zoom increases or decreases text size, but it will also make everything else on the page (such as graphics) larger or smaller as well. Zoom options can be found under the View menu, next to Zoom. You can choose a preset percentage to zoom, or enter a custom value, or just go larger or smaller by stepped increments.

The nice thing about zoom is that it has keyboard shortcuts associated with it, unlike the Text Size feature. By pressing [CTRL] and then [+] you can zoom in (make everything appear larger) and [CTRL] and then [-] will zoom out. If you want to reset the zoom value back to the standard view, press [CTRL] and then [0]. These shortcuts will affect text size, but only in proportion with everything else on the page.

Some web sites (such as Yahoo) are designed so that the Text Size feature won't override the text size specified in the site's code. For sites like these, where the Text Size feature won't change anything, you can use the Zoom feature to enlarge or reduce the page.

(Originally posted on, February 2011)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

How to use Google Cloud Print to print from an Android device to a connected printer

Mobile computing devices are becoming more and more prevalent every day, and they are increasingly being used to fulfill functions that were previously only performed by computers. One function that is becoming more common for mobile devices is printing, but printing from a mobile device is foreign to many users, and it can be tricky. If you have an Android phone or tablet, you can set up mobile printing through Google Cloud Print relatively quickly, and once you have the device set up, printing from it is a piece of cake.

The first part of setting up your printer for mobile printing requires being at a computer. The computer you use must be connected to the printer and connected to the Internet, and it must have the Google Chrome web browser installed on it. (If you don't have Chrome installed, you can download it from the Chrome download page.) Once you have mobile printing set up, this computer will need to be left on any time you want to print from your Android device.

To begin mobile printing setup, open Chrome and click on the Menu button (the one with the three horizontal lines) in the upper right corner. On the menu that appears, select "Sign in to Chrome..." A new tab will load, asking for your Google email and password. Enter this information and then click the blue "Sign in" button. (If you don't already have a Google/GMail account, you'll have to sign up for one first.)

After you've signed in to Chrome, click on the Menu button again and go to Settings. On the Settings page, type "print" into the search bar, and "Google Cloud Print" will be displayed in the results. Click on the "Add printers" button beneath the Google Cloud Print heading. A list of printers that you can add will be displayed, and each printer will already be checked. Uncheck the printers you don't want to add, so that only the printer or printers you want to use with Google Cloud Print are selected. You can also remove the check next to the "Automatically register new printers I connect" setting if you wish. Once you have selected the printer or printers you want to add, click the "Add printer(s)" button at the bottom of the list.

The first part of cloud printing setup is now complete. To finish the setup, you'll need to download Google Cloud Print onto your Android phone or tablet. On your Android device, open the Google Play Store app (or open your browser and navigate to the Google Play Store).  Search for "Cloud Print" and when that app appears in the results, select it. Make sure you are selecting the Cloud Print app by Google and not one with the same name from another company. When the app's page loads, tap the Install link toward the top of the screen. A list of permissions that the app needs will be displayed; tap the Accept button at the bottom of the list and Google Cloud Print will install.

Once the app has finished installing, you are all set up and ready to print. To test printing, open Google Cloud Print from your list of apps or from the shortcut on your home screen (if it placed one there). Tap the printer icon in the top right part of the screen and select a file to print. Once you have selected a file, a list of printers will be displayed, but if you've only added the one printer, that will be the only one shown. (Any time you add more printers to your Google Chrome account, they will be displayed here.) A link to save your file to Google Docs will also be shown.

Select your printer from the list. A preview screen will appear, where you can change some printer settings, such as resolution, paper size, and duplex options, as well as choose the number of copies you want to print. These options are very limited compared to a "true" print driver, but they do allow you some flexibility. Once you have chosen the settings you want, tap the print arrow icon in the upper right corner (the one that looks like a paper airplane) and your job will be sent to the printer.

You can now print to that printer any time, from anywhere, provided the printer and computer are both on, both connected to each other, and the computer is connected to the Internet. If you ever open up Google Cloud Print and your printer is grayed out, it means the printer is either offline or inaccessible.

(Originally published on, October 2013)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How to set an exception in the Windows XP Firewall

Windows XP comes with its own firewall software, called Windows Firewall. While it's not as customizable as some other firewall programs on the market, there are quite a few things you can adjust in order to balance security with functionality. If you need to allow traffic into your network or onto your computer, you can set up an exception in the Windows Firewall to grant a specific program access, or to let communication occur over a specific port.

To set up a firewall exception in Windows XP, follow the steps below.

1. Open the Control Panel (usually found on the Start menu).

2. Double click on the Windows Firewall icon.

3. When the Windows Firewall window appears, make sure the firewall is on and the box marked "Don't allow exceptions" is unchecked.

4. Go to the Exceptions tab.

5. If the software you want to set an exception for appears on the list of programs and services, then all you have to do is put a check next to it and click OK. Otherwise, if you want to create an exception for a program that's not listed, click Add Program, or to create an exception for a port, click Add Port.

6. For a program, you can either select the program you want from the list that appears, or you can click Browse to find the program on your computer. For a port, enter the name you want to call the exception (which can be just the port number if you want) and then below that type in the TCP or UDP port number. (If it is a UDP port, select UDP below the port number.)

7. Click OK to create the exception.

8. Click OK again to save the change.

(Originally posted on, December 2011)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

How to release and renew your IP address in Windows XP

IP addresses can either be assigned manually or automatically. When they are assigned automatically, a DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server hands them out and determines which computer or other device gets which address. This process usually flows smoothly, but there are times when you may need to release or renew an IP address even when using DHCP.

There are several ways to release and renew IP addresses in Windows XP. Each procedure is described below.

From the system notification tray:

1. Right click on the network connection icon in the system notification tray.
2. Select Repair. Windows will automatically release the current IP address, reset the network connection, and request an IP address from the DHCP server. (The new IP address that gets assigned may be a different one from before, or it may be the same one.)

From the Start menu:

1. Click the Start button.
2. Right click on My Network Places.
3. Select Properties.
4. Right click on the network connection that is currently in use.
5. Select Repair. (If you choose a network connection that is not in use, the Repair option will be grayed out.)

For either of the above methods, you can release and renew your IP address manually by clicking Disable instead of Repair, and then right-clicking and choosing Enable.

From the command prompt:

1. Click the Start button.
2. Click Run.
3. Type "cmd" and press [Enter].
4. At the command line, type "ipconfig /release" and press [Enter].
5. Type "ipconfig /renew" and press [Enter].
6. Type "exit" and press [Enter].

(Originally posted on, February 2011)