Category Archives: hw

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The laser printer drum drama

I recently bought black and cyan “drums”, for an OKI C5600N color laser printer. Some color laser printers have toners and drums in separate units, as it is the case. As far as I understand, the toner is the part that holds the “ink”, whereas the “drum” is the part to which the toner attaches, and then has a cylinder that, through electromagnetism, controls the toner to be used in a specific print. With time, this cylinder wears out, so it is a consumable, as the toner is.

I have previous experience in installing drums in this printer, but I have only used “originals” before. This time, I risked a certain alternative brand, from a seller in

I first installed the black drum, because the printer was reporting that the life of the original as low, at ~5%, and I mostly print in mono.
The installation itself went smoothly, but the printing results were terrible: full black pages.
Upon removing the drum, to check what was going on, I noticed quite a load of black toner on the transfer belt, which is yet another consumable in most color laser printers. I cleaned it, retried, and got the same result. I reopened the printer and found, again, plenty of black toner on the belt’s film surface, as if the drum was leaking, heavily. Technically it sure was leaking. Its magnetic transfer surface, was fully coated with black toner, thus not showing it’s the green or blueish looking transfer layer, that normally shows up.

This time, I cleaned the printer’s belt/film, removed the replacement black drum, reinserted the existing toner into the original black drum, and returned to good print results: no longer full black pages. The replacement black drum was clearly the culprit!

Although I was not yet needing to replace the cyan drum, I started to question its condition: would it also fail?
With the original black drum now in place, I inserted the existing cyan toner into the replacement cyan drum and was faced with the same surprisingly awful results: cyan toner spillage onto the belt/film, and pages not exactly “fully” cyan, but with a heavy “cyan mask”. Moreover, as with the black drum, the cyan drum displayed a very thick cyan toner sedimentation over its surface, instead of the normal clean green or blueish film.

What a disappointment!

Upon the removal of the replacement drums and reinstallation of the originals, such was the thickness of the toner layers in the cylinders, that spills were unavoidable. I spilled toner everywhere: to the floor, into the packages that contained the drums, to my hands, clothes, etc. Nearly everything in a radius of ~30 cm got bits of toner. It was a disastrous afternoon.

In the end, I trashed several A4 sheets, used many cleaning tissues, filled the drums’ card boxes with considerable amounts of wasted toner, and ended up with a printer in the same working condition as when the day started, but surely with less consumables available.

Something was catastrophically wrong with these products, or they got faulty during shipment. Again, I have replaced drums before, cleanly and with instant positive results. This should not have happened.

oki_c5600n_drum_drama_02_healthy_surface_768.jpg (image/jpeg)


oki_c5600n_drum_drama_03_full_black_prints_768.jpg (image/jpeg)


Technical Details
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    Making use of MS LifeCam

    I cannot get my old Microsoft LifeCam camera to work with any other program, other than Microsoft’s own and web browsers. I usually work my USB cams via iSpy, but although it once recognized the camera, and still does, something is wrong and it does not display its video or still picture, so I am stuck with MS’s corresponding software.

    Unfortunately, the original software does not allow configuring where to save videos and pictures. It always saves them to

    <system drive:>\Users\<user name>\Pictures

    So, for user “xpto”, and system at drive C:, it always saves to


    I would prefer to save elsewhere, so I replaced the “Pictures” folder with a symbolic link to a different drive.

    Using the command line, here is my input and the system’s output.

    C:\Users\admin>cd C:\Users\admin\Pictures
    C:\Users\admin\Pictures>rd "LifeCam Files"
    C:\Users\admin\Pictures>mklink /D "LifeCam Files" i:\av3\ms_lifecam
    symbolic link created for LifeCam Files <<===>> i:\av3\ms_lifecam

    What to do when your new HDD drive arrives?

    When in need of HDD space for content archival, I usually purchase internal SATA HDDs with 4+ TBs of capacity. The “Western Digital RED” series has been working OK for me, although I had one 6 TB volume complete failure (suddenly unrecognizable, unrecoverable, and all that on very light use), months ago.

    When one buys these HDDs, they should arrive “uninitialized” and, with zero starts/stops and zero minutes of use, inside a sealed anti-static bag, ideally inside a retail or OEM card package. You can check the SMART data using software like “HDD Sentinel”.

    Here is what I do next, on Microsoft Windows, using the “computer management” tool (“compmgmt.msc”):
    1) Initialize the disk using “GPT” and not “MBR” (for better support of large volumes);
    2) Quick format the HDD (for a speedy format);
    3) Disable content indexing (for speedier usage and because for searching I do not use Windows Explorer or other Microsoft tools).

    Then, using the command prompt (“cmd.exe”), I use fsutil to disable 8.3 names creation. For example, if the volume was assigned to drive M:

    fsutil 8dot3name query M:
    fsutil 8dot3name set M: 1

    The first line will probably tell you that 8.3 names (for retro compatibility with Windows XP, DOS, etc.) is enabled;
    The second line disables 8.3 names creation, speeding up the file system operations on the drive. This makes a big performance difference when working with thousands of files, which is my case.