Q: A friend told me that I should turn off my printer by using only the printer's own power switch. What did he mean by that?
A: This is one of those questions that begs for a very simple answer but in reality is more complicated than you might expect. The following information applies to both bubble-jet and ink-jet printers with some qualifications, but not to laser printers. On shutoff, most printers will move the ink cartridge(s) off to the side of the print carriage and park the heads into a cover mechanism which helps prevent them from drying out. However, this may only happen if you use the printer's own on-off switch and not just turn the power off at the surge protector or by unplugging the wall cord.
If the ink dries out in the cartridge, you will have to run the printer through one or several cleaning cycles or replace the cartridge. In either event, you will be wasting ink - a small amount is used up each time a cleaning cycle occurs and, if you have to replace a cartridge (or several), you'll be throwing away all the ink remaining in each one.
Some printers do not have this power switch feature. You should always read your owner's manual or check out the manufacturer's forums for a definitive answer regarding the shut-down procedure for your specific printer.
Q: My old computer has been giving me trouble, although I love Windows XP. I'm considering a new one but I'm hesitant about Windows 7. Will I have much trouble adapting to it?
A: I moved from Windows XP to Windows 7 about two years ago and haven't looked back; I love it even more than XP. It is faster, safer, and it just plain does everything a little better. Part of that is because of newer, faster computers, and part is the new operating system. The only problem is that while you will not likely have much trouble adapting to the new system, your old hardware and occasionally your old software may not work right. The best way to find out is to go to the Microsoft.com website, download and run the free Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, which will tell you what will be a problem with Windows 7. You can ignore the parts about your computer's capabilities since you will be running a new computer, but pay attention to such things as printers, scanners, and various hardware and software. Then you can make an informed decision whether to buy a new one or not.
That said, remember that there is another alternative: You could format the hard drive on your XP computer, which removes all data, and reinstall Windows XP, and your old computer will run like it did when you first got it. In either case, you must reinstall all your software and return your data to your files.
The Prescott Computer Society (PCS) is a PC-based users group located in Prescott. We hold several entertaining and educational meetings each month to show you how to get the most out of your computer. For further information, visit www.PCS4me.com. Email questions for future columns to PCSquestions@gmail.com.