Getting Canon inkjets to work on a Mac…

So, the ugly, ink-swilling, temperamental Epson Stylus Pro 1270 finally died a death. Total inability to feed paper (bit of a disadvantage in a printer). So, with Vicky having a book to get ready for London Book Fair it was back to the PITA of finding an A3 colour printer for high quality home office use.

Mac users know that the only company to have a full driver complement for their range is Epson, with HP doing pretty well as a second place. Most normal people can now stop reading. The rest of the post is for therapeutic purposes and the sanity of other Marital Tech Support People who have to get the printer to print…

Firstly, we bought a Canon Pixma 9000. The reason was the great reviews (rave, in fact) of the image quality, PLUS the fact it had 8 ink cartriges, build quality of an armoured vehicle and we didn’t want to touch Epson again.

The first thing I should have realised were that all the reviews were from PC users, raving about the step up in quality. The ‘Mac compatible’ bit lulled me into a false sense of expectation. Rookie error.

So, we get it home (weighs a ton) and set it up and pages just RACE through it. I’d read that it was 5 mins/page in highest quality, but the test print ran through in about 15 seconds for A3. Hmmm.

The quality wasn’t great, so I looked for the ‘quality knob’ to twiddle and couldn’t find anything over and above the most basic settings. This was the same in every application.

The root cause is that Canon has not created a ppd for the printer on a mac. This means that the output is essentially just draft quality inkjet. There’s no way to control the cunning ink reservoirs, colour balance and profile, resolution etc. It’s SO annoying.

The choice then was to retrieve the packaging from the recycling dump (!) or ‘make it work’.

Steps, therefore were:

  1. Go to Canon’s site and get the latest “installer” for the Mac. This does not include a PPD and there’s no ‘driver’ available on their site. FAIL.
  2. Google to find out why I couldn’t select the PPD in the print dialogue box. This brough the realisation ‘there’s no PPD’
  3. Looking up PPDs on Wikipedia – remembered about Postscript and felt old
  4. Re-googled, PPD with generic Adobe. Found out that Adobe have a ‘generic print driver’ and tried to associate this with the 9000. Didn’t work, but failed in a more attractive way. Found some suggestions that if one saved work as a PDF then printed that it’d improve quality. Exported the Adobe Illustrator book cover as a PDF and then printed this. Better, but we were still looking at divorce…
  5. Turned to twitter and asked about PPDs for Canon. Doug Winter (@winjer), ever-helpfully, pointed me at the stunningly useful openprinting.org (formerly linuxprint). These folk test, edit and create print drivers for the linux world. Luckily a) the mac is based on unix and so this all works; b) unix folk can roll their own; and c) unix folk like sharing things free 🙂
  6. Here’s the driver page for Canon:
    http://openprinting.org/show_printer.cgi?recnum=Canon-PIXMA_Pro9000
    No open PPD, sadly, but a pointer to TurboPrint.de and the promise of “working”
  7. TurboPrint has a mac-specific printer driver suite called (catchily) PrintFab. €49, but we needed the €79 version (interesting licencing approach – you need a more expensive licence to print bigger pages! The entry level just supports A4, while the ‘pro’ supports A3 and A3+). I admired greatly through gritted teeth as I downloaded.
  8. PrintFab installs as a new printer and – after a restart (bah) there’s a total transformation. Not only is the basic output better (certainly ideal for proofing), but the quality twiddling is nothing sort of breathtaking. ICC profiles, gamut adjustment, ink-by-ink adjustment (directly by ink mix, RGB or CMYK adjustments). The ink-saver mode is really useful and the photo quality is photolab level on 6×4 and 5×7, and passable for a 10×8. More work needed on this.

So, we now approach happiness. The Canon’s delivering on its promise and we have a great step forward from the (admittedly ancient) Epson. We also have a whole pile of new things to learn – colour profiles? Ugh.

Whatever happened to “just press Apple+P” ??

More film scans now on Flickr

My travels with a near 30-year-old camera continue: my tired but still lovely Minolta CLE from 1981-ish.

I had a great time in Paris last month with the camera on my first day, but since then I’ve put a few more films through it. The results have been variable and I have some learnings to share…

1) very fast film (high ISO numbers) has been disappointing. The 1600ASA Fuji stock I used in Brighton caused problems in scanning (bit soft) and also in the way that iPhoto displays the jpegs (seem to block and smudge, but when examined at 100% in Photoshop or Aperture, the grain was in focus and clearer, but still not great). The perfect film so far for the grey winter days has been the Fuji 800Z Professional film. I think I’m in love.

Here’s a shot from the Brighton shots to show the grain, colour ‘bloom’ and general lack of punch:

If I’m being kind I can see that the lens is resolving well enough, but straight from the scanner it’s lacking some of the kapow and oomph that the Paris set had.

2) Older Leica lenses aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. The shot above was with an old Leica 28mm Elmarit-M 2.8. Not a bad lens in anyone’s bag, but lacks the contrasty punch of the 40mm f2 Rokkor that comes as standard with the CLE. I really wanted it to be brilliant (especially since I’d swapped an Xpan body for it!) but it just didn’t do it for me. Annoyingly, the amount of Aperture-twiddling I needed to do to in post-production rather spoils the point of dev&scan.

3) The new Leica aspherical is just lovely.

This is from the Regents Park set: Fuji160 film and the 28mm Elmarit-M 2.8 ASPH. It’s a dinky, wee little thing and it’s brought back the ‘punch’ and contrast. Look at this image at the original size and you’ll see that the scanner’s managed to get more of a ‘grip’ on the negatives – you can even see the water marks on the surface of the negative. Resolving power is wonderful and the delicate handling of out-of-focus parts (eg the little boy in the sand) is just beautiful. I’m in love. Motto – always read Ken Rockwell before buying a lens! Interestingly, after the Leica rebate this lens is the same price as a 20 year old second hand inferior one and now a worthy swap for my 10yr-old Xpan.

3) My CLE over-exposes. Routinely, by about a 1/3rd to half a stop. I’m not sure whether it’s an artefact of the metering pattern (I don’t really like averaging systems – I loved the 12% weighting of the Nikon F3, and everything since then is just not quite right). I’ll run a few more films through before I commit to adjusting the ASA dial, but it’s worth knowing.

4) The absence of some features are truly a pain. Why no AE lock? Surely, simple to implement (and existed on other cameras that shared the CLE’s electronics). Also, a nice reminder in the viewfinder of having set exposure compensation would be nice… Still, not annoying enough to warrant the expense of a Leica M7 😉

5) You need to think carefully about the film stock and how you’ll use/process it. I’m taking a lazy approach, aiming for zero intervention: C41 commercial process, machine scanning, import and upload. A bit of tweaking on saturation and the black/shadow level is all I’ll do. Anything else is a) not true to the Cartier-Bresson decisive moment and b) if I’m going to mess around twiddling I might as well do a different approach!

I’m trying to settle on films that have the cool tones of Fuji film, excellent edge contrast (works best on the web) and good tonality. Fuji800Z is wining on the colour front. It may help that the lab, Panther Imaging on Clerkenwell Road, use a Fuji scanner. Then again, it may not.

B&W has been disappointing with HP5, but the Fuji Neopan 1600 was just exemplary. I slightly overexposed to capture highlight detail and then adjusted -1/3 in Aperture and couldn’t be happier. That won’t work for the summer though…

The main reason to obsess about this (apart from it being an obsession, naturally) is that you need to “know” how the image will turn out in advance. Unlike digital (where you can shoot, chimp at the screen, fiddle and reshoot), you have to see the image in your head, plan and expose – knowing the combined effect of exposure, film behaviour and standard scanning effect. That’s why it’s fun 🙂

So, I have a few trips planned in the coming weeks – to Amsterdam and Manchester – where I’ll have a couple of hours to wander the streets and take some more shots. I’ll update my impressions of the CLE and the tiny lenses, and also think I’ll be concentrating on the Fuji 800Z and HP5. Not quite sure what I’ll do once Spring is sprung – faster films will blow out the highlights pretty quickly, so I’m interested in any advice for a ‘summer film’ stock…

Recent speaking: ACSEL in Paris and eConsultancy in London

It’s been a busy time on the speaking front of late.

I started the week in Paris speaking at the ACSEL event on social media in eCommerce and then in London for the inaugural eConsultancy.com Alumni evening. Slides from both evenings are available on Slideshare by following the links to the blog posts.

In the next couple of weeks I have planned speeches at Digital Shorts in Manchester and in Brighton, all developing the themes of data, interaction and behavioural profile – from APML to Epiphenomena.

If you’re around ping me and let’s connect: either via www.twitter.com/ianjindal or via Brightkite.

Slides from the Digital Shorts evenings will be posted on ianjindal.com once given.

Heading off to the Mediafutures conference

Just off to the Mediafutures Conference in Ally Pally (reaches for A-Z) and wondering whether there’ll be great broadband/mobile reception there ‘cos we’re under a mast?

Interesting day lined up but here’s a quick heads up that there’s a twitter channel at (predictably):
Twitter / mediafutures

I’m not going to promise an update since Nico’s notes are generally quicker and better than any notes I’ve taken at his events 😉

Vodafone Mobile Connect – inept and unnecessary problems with Mac OSX Leopard… solved.

Update: 2010-06-16

Vodafone has released New_Vodafone_Mobile_Broadband_4.01.03.00.dmg available from here:

http://www.business.vodafone.com/site/bus/public/enuk/support/10_productsupport/laptop_connectivity/40_software/software/10_latest/p_mac.jsp

This rather nicely installs without having to be root (huzzah) and magically recognises more modems (I got plug n play with a Novatel 2352, not just the Huawei 220) and is an informative, useful piece of software. I’ll leave the rest here for those not running the latest version of OSX.

<- Old post follows ->

I’ve been a user of the Vodafone 3G USB thingy for over a year – £45, all you can eat, high-speed internet that’s worked largely without trouble across the UK, France and further afield.

The recent purchase of a new MacBook Pro meant that I needed to reinitialise the modem: normally a really simple activity with the Vodafone Mobile Connect (VMC) application. It seems not to do much – just sets the modem scripts and access codes for the USB thingy (a rebaged HUAWEI 220).

Anyways – every time I launched the VMC it just hung. So – no 3G, no nothing.

16 minutes into my call with the new-but-very-helpful trainee and we do the uninstall-reinstall-restart shuffle (I’d done all of this in anticipation) so after that he ‘escalates’ and tells me that my call’s been logged but that they only have one Mac specialist and so the estimated time to a diagnosis/call-back is 2-3 weeks. Yes, that’s right. Weeks.

I suggested that it’d be easier to just cancel my account since I’m out of contract and start again with non-flakey software and after some rummaging and an offer of a rebate after 2 weeks of non-functioning (!) I asked if I couldn’t just get the access details directly and not bother with VMC. In checking that he accidentally ends up chatting to the Mac guy to whom I’m instantly transferred. Excellent. I can only suggest that a more seasoned operative would have ‘accidentally’ hung up on me by now…

Anyway, in practised and weary tones the Mac guy talks me through…

  • Applications > Utilities > Directory Utility. Launch this
  • From the Edit menu, “Enable Root User”, creating a root account with uname/pword as the ever-popular combo of “root/root”
  • apple-shift-q to log out, the click “other” on the login screen and enter, yes, root/root
  • while running as root, plug in the usb modem and wait until the green light flickers (logging on) and turns blue (3g acquired)
  • launch VMC – it’ll see the modem, log onto Vodafone and then click “OK” to save the settings.
  • apple-shift-q to leave root-dom, then log in again as yourself
  • deactivate the root account (see steps 1&2 – do in reverse)

If like me you have your modem status in the menu bar, just click and connect.

That’s it. A cruddy, thoughtless, inept piece of software that insists that the initial settings are run as root.

So Vodafone have the unique position of being the only app I’ve ever had to install under OSX as root; then a special prize for telling no-one!

I asked the engineer why this wasn’t on the web and he said it’s because they didn’t want to be responsible for telling people to enable root and maybe break things. Hmmm – preferable to let people wait 2-3 weeks without access… Much better idea!

For fellow sufferers: versions are:
OSX: 10.5.2
VMC: 2.08.05.04

YMMV and of course be careful while root.

Welcome to Macintosh, 24 years ago today – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

24 years ago, eh? Most people know that I’m a bit of a mac fan (or victim – take your pick). Given that I spend so much of my working life at a keyboard it’s a real testament to the OS+hardware combo that I still enjoy the very processes of _using_ the computer. Apart from the dull, awful year of the late OS9 phase (think 1997-2000, when Windows NT was a more fulfilling computing experience and Windows2000 “just worked”) every day of using 5 versions of OSX have been fun. Well, nearly.

I missed the start of macdom, only coming across my first mac in early 1988. I’d just come off a “computer course” at Ernst & Young, on an aged Epson orange-screen, keyboard-clips-to-the-front machine and there, in the middle of the open plan office, was a pretty little SE (or SE/30, or something – it was a little box, anyway). It still had its antimacassar on, it was “portable” in the way that a rickshaw makes people ‘portable’, it didn’t have multifinder and the 9″ screen was a porthole, but goodness me was it lovely. Intuitive and it ‘just worked’.

Having MS Word and Excel made the machine useful, so it’d be naive to think that the OS alone could make the machine a success. Indeed, with Apple’s vanity foray into “we be for the creatives” it was nearly wholly marginalised as a business machine. Arguably its entrenched position in the publishing and design departments kept it alive (or was that the enormous software investment in Quark that was a disincentive to change?) while Jobs wandered off and did ‘pretty unix’ via NeXT.

A combination of industrial design (Ive), good UNIX underpinnings or DNA (from NeXT), flair and confidence (from the return of jobs) and an understanding of “mass affluenza”, supporting ‘design items’ and higher prices than the cost-cutting obsessives inside the megaboxshifters would have thought sensible and we have today’s Apple.

The company today has defined a new consumer electronics niche – twice. The iPod and iTunes linked hardware and a licensing business model that was new; the iPhone is a desirable phone that’s the first to make on-the-move data access really usable, while also creating a new economic model for working with telcos (the revenue-share agreements rather than subsidised handset prices).

Still – let’s not get too misty-eyed: not until we see the 10″ Macbook Superair – an iphone-style touchscreen osx-running, optionally-keyboarded datamunching ever-connected wondergizmo – the Apple Newton re-born! I’m just going to nip off and unwrap the pristine Newton 120 that Doug bought me off ebay (in generous sarcasm, I’m sure). Your time will come again, my pretty…

UPDATE: for an amusing look at Mac obsessives, check out the trailer here: http://www.macheadsthemovie.com/ Some great quotes and much at which to chuckle: whether at aging hippies who see Apple as the new revolution, tart comments about them being misguided fools or the sensible point about ‘love the community not the mac’. It has the makings of a great documentary and – whatever your view – it’s a reminder to brand owners in a global, consumerist world, about the power of connection your brand with people’s passions.

Speaking at Manchester Digital/e-consultancy’s “Digital Shorts”

View Event :: Manchester Digital

I spoke in Manchester last night at the Digital Shorts event, organised by Manchester Digital and e-consultancy. I spoke at this event last January and this gave me the opportunity to review the predictions I’d made, compare this last Christmas with that of 2006 and consider the key areas of interest for 2008 (and how these have developed from those of 2007).

There was a great Manchester welcome, a good opportunity to catch up with people from the Littlewoods diaspora, as well as the growing number of agencies and digital entrepreneurs in the North West. Thanks to some deft use of the corporate card the conversation (and drink) flowed in the bar afterwards and we didn’t seem to lose _too_ many people rushing over to the MEN to hear the Spice Girls’ triumphant return tour – the other Big Event in Manchester last night 😉

Speaking: Leeds Digital Shorts

Leeds digital shorts | Events | E-consultancy.com

As the evenings draw in and Santa’s little helpers are doing their stretching exercises, Ian Jindal, Editor in Chief of InternetRetailing.net, will be reviewing the key developments of note to ecommerce professionals during 2007.

Looking forward to heading up to Leeds tomorrow to speak at a Digital Shorts event, entitled “Digital Resolutions”. This is a similar format to the Digital Shorts event in Manchester last January (indeed I’m going to be reprising that evening in January 2008 when I return to Manchester for another Digital Shorts evening).

Looking forward to seeing some friends, colleagues and clients in Leeds both for the session and for drinks afterwards.

Quilter St Olives: end of the first week of brine…


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Originally uploaded by ikj

Here a photo of the olives after their first week in brine.

Since starting on the preserving olives route last month I’d been soaking the olives in plain water, changing daily.

Last week I moved onto the soak-for-a-week-in-brine and this is the state of affairs just before I rinsed them and put into a fresh briney solution.

Although it looks a bit ‘brown’ and hazey it smells OK – not exactly “olivey” but then not exactly anything. The olives still feel firm so I’m hoping that they’ve not started festering.

Let’s see how things progress – only another 3 months to eating…

e-Consultancy: Harnessing the Power of Social Media


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Originally uploaded by ikj
This is a really fun training day and you can (see details of the event) and I was speaking on “Emerging trends in social media”.

This is a photo of the audience as I manifestly fail to update my site via SMS… thankfully it worked the second time 🙂

The slides from the morning are on e-consultancy’s site and I recommend having a look – Ged, Ros and Will were great presenters and I learned a great deal in each of their slots.

It was interesting too how engaged the audience was in the ‘social media’ arena – there was a mix there from agency-side, publishers, government, retail and professional bodies. All are active in SM – from basic starts to pretty extensive activity. However, everyone’s now looking for a certain ‘edge’, to making money and to a more sophisticated exploitation of the opportunities.

Props to BSG for the venue too. I was trying out Apple’s Keynote and their nice ’embed a web page’ capabilities to switch in and out of presentation and live demo/use. This is always high risk, but the excellent bandwidth and presentation facilities pulled this off. Much better than the time I tried it at a client’s where their wireless network was flakey and saturated and all of the windows blocked mobile/3G signals… There’s nothing worse (or more ironically sublime?) than doing a presentation on Web2.0 interfaces using nothing but a flipchart and the power of mime!