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Comment Re:So, I ask: who's making good printers these day (Score 1) 381

I'm going to disagree here, at least if you're in the UK.

I had a Kyocera FS-C5200DN. I have had no end of trouble with it and Kyocera support:

* Defective firmware. If connected to a Linux server, the printer would reject any job and throw a Service Required fault (which turned out to be an assert failure). I was informed by the local Kyocera distributor that there was a firmware update, which I needed to contact Kyocera to get. Their response was initially to deny everything. I asked how to request a service callout under the warranty - I was given a list of Kyocera repair agents. Every single one of them was dedicated to business customers - not a single one of them would do a residential callout. One went as far as claiming their Kyocera repair contract prohibited them from doing so.

* Complete loss of several colours. There's a sensor on the developer unit which tells the printer when the hopper is low on toner. An Archimedian screw type mechanism in the toner cartridge feeds the toner, and a motor in the printer turns that via a gear. When the sensor fails, the printer thinks there's always toner in the dev unit, even when there isn't. Once again I tried to raise a service call - the printer had a month left on the guarantee. Kyocera's response was that the invoice date was irrelevant, they worked from the manufacturer date - which meant in their opinion, my warranty had ended four months prior. Once again I was given a list of service agents, and none would accept a callout. Once again, "the contract prohibits us from doing residential callouts for Kyocera hardware".

* Image registration shifting on every job. The printer needs "calibrating" -- aligning the four toner images against each other. This started shifting on every print job, sometimes every page. I called once more, and was quoted £150 for a service call-out. Nope.

This morning, the network interface card failed completely. The printer has run a total of 57,000 pages in less than five years.

Had Kyocera supported their product, I'd have bought another in a heartbeat. As it stands, I'm not going to touch their products with a barge pole. Their after-sales support sucks -- quite honestly, it seems that once they have your money, they couldn't care less. If you're a business customer they'll suck up beyond belief (they'll suck up even more if you have a support contract), but home-office customers? Forget it.

The only reason I managed to keep this thing running for five years is because I found someone on the FixYourOwnPrinter forum who worked at a Kyocera repair shop; they very kindly emailed me the service manual and firmware update and a few service notes. Every single problem I had is documented in those notes. Sadly the repair procedures involve parts I can't get (Kyocera will only sell parts to authorised repair agents). So the printer's being scrapped and replaced with a Samsung CLP-680ND. At least that's a cheap printer to start with... far easier to eat the cost of the machine if it all goes pear-shaped later on (the Kyocera cost about £650 with carriage and such added on).

- Phil Pemberton (philpem)

Comment Re:Is this similiar to the case? (Score 5, Informative) 227

You're thinking about Bnetd -- Blizzard sued the dev team under the terms of the DMCA. As I recall, the main issue was that they'd created a emulator which didn't implement CD key checking -- Blizzard refused to allow Bnetd to validate CD keys against (citing security and piracy fears), and proceeded to send a DMCA takedown to the Bnetd project's ISP.

Blizzard then sued the Bnetd developers and their ISP (in addition to the takedown request), alleging copyright infringement, trademark infringement, breaking the and several Blizzard games' EULAs *and* several DMCA violations to boot. The EFF defended the dev team, but Blizzard still won the lawsuit, the domain, and a judgment against the original developers.

Proof positive that Blizzard were definitely in the "evil" category long before the Activision merger.

(However this didn't stop the GPL'd source code of the Bnetd project ending up on many, *many* servers worldwide... far out of reach of the DMCA restrictions)

(Disclaimer: any opinions presented herein are my own, and not necessarily those of any other entity)

Comment Re:As bad as the *AA consortiums (Score 2) 236

Oh wow, and I thought I was the only person crazy enough to do component-level repair on consumer kit :)

I've got two testbench monitors -- an Acorn AKF17 TV-sync display (a Philips CM8833-II with a different label and a few less connectors) and a Viewsonic VX922.

The power switch on the Acorn broke - I jammed a plastic toothpick in there to hold it in. Still works fine.
The Viewsonic suffered the effects of Capacitor Plague. £15 worth of new name-brand (Panasonic, specifically) capacitors and it works fine again.

I've replaced broken USB ports on phones and computer kit, fixed power supplies, test and measurement gear, TVs (CRT and LCD), you name it. If I see something with a "broken" sticker on it, and I think I can make use of it, I'll try and fix it. You can't really beat the combination of "saving the planet" and solving a puzzle...

Probably helps that I'm fairly active in the retrocomputing community. Put simply, you NEED these skills to be able to keep those machines running. You can't just call the manufacturer and have them fix it... Around here, though, people give you crazy looks if you tell them you fixed something... The usual response is something along the lines of "Why did you waste your time doing that? You could have bought a new one from Argos for £x!"...

Comment Re:Local Loop Unbundling (Score 1) 258

What surprises me is that even though O2 bought Be, they haven't really absorbed them into the corporate 'machine' (so to speak). O2 resell Be's services under their own banner, with some pricing and feature differences, but the Be packages are more or less the same as they always have been...

They did screw up my line move and leave me without internet access for nearly three weeks (thank $DEITY for 3G dongles and Shorewall being so easy to reconfigure!) but that was at least as much BT's fault as it was Be's. Specifically, it took three weeks and a new DSLAM line-card for Be to realise that the cable between the incoming line and their DSLAM was screwed. BT overrode Be's request for a DSL engineer and sent a line technician (who didn't have DSL test gear or training), then signed the exchange line off as "tested good" THREE TIMES before it seems someone actually got a cable tester out, found the break and fixed it. And of course, while all this was going on, the voice line worked perfectly. Hmm.

To put that in perspective though, for the past four or so years, I've had absolutely no trouble with them. The Live Chat reps know their stuff, as do most of the phone reps. Ask any other ISP to change your DSLAM line profile or enable FastPath and you'll get a "what, sir?" or "we can't do that, sir..."

I wouldn't necessarily recommend them for non-technically-minded folks (unless they fancied learning a bit about DSL tech along the way) but for power users, they're more or less the gold standard.

Interesting side point: Be's customer service and tech support call centre is based in Bulgaria (or was last time I checked). I've had more trouble getting Apple's customer services team to understand what I'm saying than I ever have with Be's CS team. (plus side -- most if not all of Be's team at least grasp the concept of the ICAO Phonetic Alphabet, if not knowing it off-hand. Small thing, but it helps immensely when reading alphanumeric software version numbers and MAC addresses out over the phone...)

Comment Re:Codemasters are a has been. (Score 1) 162

Yeah, seconded. As a wonderful example of this...

Like most games, the Colin McRae Rally series include cheat codes. Sometimes it's fun to play with these cheats -- the PSone version had the cheatcode "blancmange", which turned your chosen car into a large, lime-green jelly. In some ways it was more fun to play with the cheats than without!

Codemasters decided to capitalise on this.

By generating a random "installation key" every time you install the game, and generate the cheat codes from that key. To get the cheat codes, you have to call a premium rate phone line (£2/minute if memory serves, minimum call length 5 minutes). If you reinstall the game or want to install it on your laptop... you get to pay again.

The words "taking the piss" spring to mind.

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