The Samsung Universal Print Driver causes the printer to print documents without white space, including paragraph whitespace, breaks, page margins and header footer margins

System Requirements:

  • Samsung CLP-300N
  • Samsung Universal Print Driver

The Problem:

It’s a Samsung printer driver problem reprise! For those not familiar with the self evident truth that Samsung have never quite managed to develop a competency in writing printer drivers, you may with to familiarise yourself with the last inexplicable printer driver problem that I found and just how unhelpful Samsung themselves were about my trying to report it to them.

The latest native driver for the CLP-300N is a release from the 20th October 2009. It is also possible to get it working via Windows Update using this driver under Windows 7. However, for the last year I have been experiencing a problem: Microsoft Word will not print unless it is in greyscale.

I’ve tried uninstalling the print drivers, altering the default and enforced printer settings – all of which are set to colour – and the instant you leave the printer configuration dialogue in Word 2010, the driver resets back to greyscale. Inexplicable and a problem that is not present in other applications; including other parts of Office 2010, Adobe reader etc.

My short-term fix was to print to PDF and then print from Adobe Reader directly to the CLP-300N. However this afternoon I was annoyed enough by it to fix it.

It’s obviously the driver. So I took it off again and ever hopeful attempted to see if there was a new Samsung driver – there wasn’t. Yet I did notice that like most printer manufacturers, the vogue at present is to offer universal PCL print drivers, for which the CLP-300N downloads page on Samsung.com did offer a 2013-03-09 (2013-03-15 signed) driver reportedly of version 2.50.02.00.03.

Fantastic! It fixed the problem and Word 2010 now printed in colour for the first time in a year without even a reboot. Except…

If we pretend that this was my document

<header>

Dear Sir,

Bla, bla, bla.

Bla, bla, bla.

Bla, bla, bla.

Bla, bla, bla.

Yours faithfully,

C:Amie

<footer>
<bottom of A4 page>

What I actually got was

<header>
Dear Sir,
Bla, bla, bla.
Bla, bla, bla.
Bla, bla, bla.
Bla, bla, bla.
Yours faithfully,
C:Amie
<footer><bottom of A4 page>

Oops.

 

The Fix

There isn’t any point in going into troubleshooting details on this, I spent about 20 minutes wasting paper on it and the driver doesn’t work. I’m not the only person to see this either.

View: Ubuntu Forums

The simple fix is to go back to the Samsung downloads page for printers and don’t select a model number. Head directly to the Samsung Universal Print driver page and download the latest release (2013-09-23 of version 2.50.04.00.08 as of writing).

This fixes the problem.

After last time, I’m not going to waste my phone bill or breath attempting to report it to Samsung.

If you want my advice, don’t buy their printers. If you don’t want my advice, don’t follow it.

Printing to an O’Neil Route Printer RP2000-8000 Line Mode (COM) Printer using embedded Visual Basic (eVB) on Windows CE and Windows Mobile

System Requirements:

  • Microsoft embedded Visual Basic
  • Windows CE 2.11, 3.0, 4.0, 4.1, 4.2, 5.0
  • Pocket PC 2000, 2002
  • Windows Mobile 2003, 2003SE, 5.0

The Problem:

Although this article specifically addresses a problem that I had between a Symbol PDT8046 and the O’Neil Route Printer RP2000-8000, the issue and resolution should be applicable to any serial (COM) port based line printer.

If you have a raw ascii line printer, you can check to see if the printer works by echoing directly from the stdout into the COM port. Under DOS or the Windows command shell on the PC or Pocket DOS on Windows CE/Windows Mobile issue the following commands

mode com1: 9600,n,8,1,r
mode lpt1:=com1:echo I am a fish > lpt1

This will send I am a fish and a line feed to COM1 at 9600bps with no parity. Note that Pocket DOS doesn’t support the “,r” parameter.

So now that you have ascertained that the printer actually works, when you use the Microsoft Communications Control (Microsoft Comm Control) for embedded Visual Basic (eVB) to send the same data, why is it that nothing happens what so ever.

More Info

Let us look at the VB

‘ Set to COM1, 9600bps, no Parity.
‘ Enable DTR Flow Control, disable RTS Flow Control, disable handshaking
msComm.CommPort = 1
msComm.Settings = “9600,n,8,1,r”
msComm.DTREnable = truemsComm.RTSEnable = false
msComm.Handshaking = 0

‘ Attempt to get control of the COM port if it isn’t available
On Error Resume Next
if (msComm.PortOpen) then
msComm.PortOpen = false
end if
On Error Goto 0

‘ Open the port, Send the message, shutdown the port
msComm.PortOpen = true
msComm.Output = “I am a fish” & Chr(13) & Chr(10)
msComm.PortOpen = false

This is a logical flow of execution and basically what on the surface the DOS version is doing. Yet the message I am a fish will never arrive at the printer. In fact, the printer will not even acknowledge the presence of the message.

The Fix

This code is in fact completely logical, and is right (for the O’Neil RP2000-8000 anyway). However after some frustration and experimentation I discovered that there are two important pieces of the puzzle missing, one of them strongly recommended and the other very much mandatory.

Issue 1: Sleeping Printer

The O’Neil printer will go into standby mode after a couple of minutes of idle time so as to conserve power. If the printer is in sleep mode and you send data to it, it probably will not be awake to receive information and send it to the print head fast enough; best case nothing happens and worst case less than half of your message gets printed.

The O’Neil hardware manual has a very short section on this. In order to wake the printer up (or ensure that it is awake) you need to send a string of ASCII NULL characters (0x00) at the printer. For ONeil line mode printers operating at 9600bps you need to send this string 6+ times. For 38,400bps printers you should send this 24+ times. In our VB world that means:

msComm.Output = Chr(0) & Chr(0) & Chr(0) & Chr(0) & Chr(0) & Chr(0) & Chr(0)

7 times is a charm, however the manual also states that you should wait 150ms before sending data to the printer. See the next section on implementing Sleep().

If you repeat your test now, your printer should at least wake up even if nothing else happens

Issue 2: Speed = Distance / Time

I could wax lyrical on this, but Ill keep it brief.

There are a couple of buffers at play in the form of the OS and the printer, the embedded operating system and the eVB runtime processor. All of which cause delays. It follows something similar to this

  1. User Sends Print Request
  2. eVB Runtime Parses the command and sends it to the native code of the machine
  3. Operating System queues it in RAM as it gets processed through and send on its merry way
  4. Operating System queues it in the COM port transmit (TX) buffer
  5. Printer receives the message and queues it in the print buffer (512 bytes I *think* on the RP2000-8000)
  6. Printer processes it forward to the print head and the line at the front of the queue is printed

eVB does not care about steps 3 – 6, neither is it aware of them. As far as eVB is concerned, it has finished with the msComm.Output() command as soon as it has received an OK from the operating system that the requests has been through the processor and the data is in a queue.

Referring back to our original code

‘ Set to COM1, 9600bps, no Parity.
‘ Enable DTR Flow Control, disable RTS Flow Control, disable handshaking
msComm.CommPort = 1
msComm.Settings = “9600,n,8,1,r”
msComm.DTREnable = truemsComm.RTSEnable = false
msComm.Handshaking = 0

‘ Attempt to get control of the COM port if it isn’t available
On Error Resume Next
if (msComm.PortOpen) then
msComm.PortOpen = false
end if
On Error Goto 0

‘ Open the port, Send the message, shutdown the port
msComm.PortOpen = true
msComm.Output = “I am a fish” & Chr(13) & Chr(10)      <—— My work as VB is now over
msComm.PortOpen = false                                    <—— Shutdown the COM port

What is happening? eVB thinks that everything has been delivered and shuts down the COM port before the data has left the sending device and is safely received into the printers hardware buffer.

What is the solution? Well, you can be as eloquent or in-eloquent as you like. You can do a byte by byte check of data into the VB transmit buffer, ensuring that this has gone before you progress through the output stream. Alternatively if you are feeling lazy you could use the threading model and implement a fixed length sleep action. If however you are feeling somewhere between the two extremes you can try and weight the sleep timer based upon message length. Something along the lines of

delay (ms) = Absolute(((Length(Message) / ((Printer Bit Rate * 0.50) / 8 )) * 1000))

A weighting of 0.66 is assumed so that the link speed and buffer writing can be running at only 1/2 of line speed. Division by 8 is used to convert from Bits Per Second to Bytes Per Second. Multiplication by 1000 converts the value to milliseconds.

or for the RP2000-8000 with message “I am a fish <cr><lf>” [13 characters]

delay (ms) = Abs(13 / ((9600 * 0.66) / 8) * 1000)

or 21 ms

Onto this you may want to add a standard value that reflects the time the message takes to leave the operating system onto the wire. 50 – 100ms should do.

In order to use the thread sleep function in eVB you have to import the export from the C++ corelib as follows

Declare Sub Sleep Lib “Coredll.dll” (ByVal dwMilliseconds As Integer)

Dim strMessage
strMessage = “I am a fish” & Chr(13) & Chr(10)

‘ Set to COM1, 9600bps, no Parity.
‘ Enable DTR Flow Control, disable RTS Flow Control, disable handshaking
msComm.CommPort = 1
msComm.Settings = “9600,n,8,1,r”
msComm.DTREnable = true

msComm.RTSEnable = false
msComm.Handshaking = 0

‘ Attempt to get control of the COM port if it isn’t available
On Error Resume Next
if (msComm.PortOpen) then
msComm.PortOpen = false
end if
On Error Goto 0

‘ Open the port, Send the message, shutdown the port
msComm.PortOpen = true
msComm.Output = strMessage
call Sleep((Abs(((Len(strMessage) / ((9600 * 0.50) / 8)) * 1000)) + 50))
msComm.PortOpen = false

Note: This code is highly summarised it will not work directly as a copy/paste, you need to modularise it and create the msComm object.

With the sleep function in place and the correct tuning you should now find that the data gets to the printer before eVB closes the COM port.

Remember that you need to implement the function of Sleep(150) after sending the wake-up NULL string to the printer.

Uninstalled WD SES Device USB Device appears in device manager with Western Digital Passport ‘Smartware’ enabled device

System Requirements:

  • Western Digital Smartware enabled USB device

The Problem:

When you install a Western Digital USB hard drive an uninstalled device appears in “other devices” in the Windows device manager.

More Info

The WD SES Device USB Device is a enclosure communication and feedback device which, when enabled allows the USB enclosure to communicate additional metrics about the state of the equipment. In this case, the USB enclosure is the USB Caddy containing the 2.5″ drive.

SES stands for SCSI Enclosure Services, which provide extensions to the SCSI command set to allow for reporting and querying of data such as power consumption and state and cooling performance and thermal state within the caddy. The commands are used for diagnostic purposes and are not required in the functionality of the drive or data I/O itself.

You can continue to use the drive without this driver installed. In the case of Western Digital, its main purpose is to facilitate value added features in the Smartware management software.

The Fix

You can find the driver on the 614MB UDF partition that appears with the data storage volume in My Computer. Point the driver installation Wizard at the UDF partition, or more specifically to X:\Extras\WD SES Device Driver where X: is the mounted driver letter for the UDF partition labeled “WD SmartWare”.

The WD SES Driver version shipping with drives containing WD Smartware 1.2.0.8 and with the update (3.1.0.13) available from wdc.com is version 1.0.7.2. It is available for both x86 and x64 systems.

When you attempt to use the Magnifier button on a Microsoft Comfort 3000 optical mouse, the screen flashes when the magnifier loads

System Requirements:

  • Windows Vista SP1
  • Windows Server 2008

The Problem:

Yet another Vista problem, and it’s not a Driver one.

If you own a Microsoft Mouse, and have the latest version of IntelliPoint installed, chances are that you are aware that the function for the red button on the side is to enable the screen magnifier by default.

This feature is particularly useful if you are visually impaired, however upon moving from Windows XP to Windows Vista you will note that when attempting to load the magnifier, the screen will flash to black, slowly re-draw and once the magnifier window finally loads there will be nothing in it for around a second before the graphics subsystem catches up. To make matters worse, the entire processing of the magnified image becomes very CPU intensive, which interferes with other processes such as text to speech.

More Information:

This is a feature. Joy.

The new Vista Windows Display Manager uses off-screen rendering buffers to supply the GUI with all the nice visual effects that you have become used to in the Vista world. The problem is that when you click the magnification button, the system has to recycle the entire screens worth of data before it can redraw the image. This is compared to the old Windows XP and lower system where each window on the screen was responsible for drawing itself.

The Fix

The following steps will outline how to prevent Vista from completely redrawing the screen when you hit the magnifier. Please note that by doing this you will lose GUI features and fancy effects.

  1. Ensure that you have installed the latest version of Microsoft IntelliPoint (Version 6.3 at the time of writing).
    IntelliPoint is available to download for free from: http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/
  2. Open the Control Panel
  3. Open the System Applet
  4. In the left hand navigation pane select the Advanced System Settings option
  5. Click the Settings button in the performance section of the Advanced tab
  6. Remove the tick box next to Enable Desktop Composition
  7. Click OK twice to return to the control panel. Note that the screen will flash and that Aero effects will be disabled