By far this is the most often asked question when I am speaking with a customer.
First things first, however. There are three different types of ribbon for your consideration.
By “type of ribbon,” I mean what fabric was used.
Nylon, most probably the least expensive of the three has plusses and minuses.
Nylon takes more abuse but, does not hold as much ink as some others.
Cotton, also not the most expensive holds much more ink for a longer period. However, Cotton pulverizes much easier than Nylon.
Silk, the most expensive of the three holds together longer and is in the middle of the road as far as its ability to retain ink.
“Great, there are three types, which one do I need?”
There are a few different factors to consider.
Your average humidity. The moisture in ink will evaporate much faster in Arizona, than Florida, for example.
“Why do I care about how fast the moisture evaporates?”
The medium for the ink is the moisture. When the ribbon is dry, the quality of the print is diminished. Also, it is my contention that the moisture from the ink assist in lubricating the type section allowing it to wear much slower than pure metal on metal.
As the solenoid under the type section rises to strike the type section, it places the imprint on the document of the date, time and whatever other information you may have on your individual plates.
Each time it does this, it breaks the bonds in the fabric a little, which is the ribbons substrate or media which holds the actual ink.
During the ribbons life cycle, the spooling mechanism rolls the fabric back and forth as it nears the end. Several passes of the ribbon are possibly before the ribbon should be replaced.
I tell customers to make an imprint right after they change the ribbon. Take that example hang it by your machine somewhere.
Much like the brakes on your car, you have no idea that from the get go they are performing less efficiently until one day you hear the ubiquitous squeal from a metal warning indicator telling you to service your brakes. Each day they wear just a little bit more and stop just a little less efficiently.
Your ribbon from day one slowly loses ink, and before you know it, you are not able to clearly see the imprint.
“Why is this a problem, I want to get the most out of the ribbon I can!”
“No, no you don’t. Most of you are scanning or imaging your documents. That means that the original text must be legible. Since most scanners do not get 100% of the original “value” or the image darkness, the original needs to be as dark and definite as possible.” Secondly using a ribbon too long will cause pulverization of the substrate. If you have ever looked inside your Rapidprint or Widmer file date stamper and seen “gunk” in the wheels or plates. That is from ribbon fragments and paper dust bound together with ink as the glue.”
Do not try this at home!
Many of you have attempted to clean this yourself. Once you try this, quickly you will see the error in your way. Using an old toothbrush and alcohol should be an easy task! There is a reason that I do very little service in the field. One customer did this and told me of the experience. I did not mean to laugh but, the walls appeared as though an inkwell blew up. Her clothes, desk and anything within proximity was spotted with ink.
Never mind the mess that this process makes here is the real bugaboo. When cleaning the machine, you take the oils and other chemicals away which lubricate the wheels and mechanism.
I disassemble each machine after cleaning it replacing the worn parts, and then I replace the lubricants.
For these to function properly the tolerances are critical. Some have tried to replace parts by themselves to find they got into more than they bargained for.
If the machine full of gunk is left untreated, the mechanism will wear faster, and the imprint will not be clear but smeared as the letters like “O” will be filled in and appear as a large dot instead of an “o.” The same applies to the numbers 0 or 6 or 8 or 9 and any other letter than has a closed circle of some sort.
Since these machines can cost up to $1000 each, it is a super good idea to have them serviced occasionally.
Changing the ribbon when the print starts to get too light is also a good idea.
At TimeDok we sell and service these machine and have done so since 1995.
If you purchase a dozen or more ribbons from me at one time, I pick up the shipping.
In summary, Silk is the most robust ribbon for those of you who don’t like to change them as often as you should.
Cotton will render the best print image but will pulverize and needs to be changed when the print gets too light.
Nylon is less expensive than Silk and does hold up better than cotton but will not last as long as cotton or silk.
One of the other things I see too often is this. “The spooler is not working!”
Go here and check this out before you send me your machine
“Is it feasible to use Timedok for my service as I am not in Texas?”
If you can get UPS to come to your location then yes. I currently have customers in all 50 states and in some of its territories.
Call or write for details. Many times a machine will just show up with no advanced warning from a new customer. That is ok too but, a heads up would be nice so I can get to know you a little and vice versa.
Before you think this is some macabre blog about life and death hold on! I am talking about time to let your trusted computer retire.
“Why the hell is my computer so slow!” I substituted “hell” for the F word! You get the point. People are frustrated and just pissed off by the time I get a call.
The average life span of a PC is about 5 years, give or take. The issues I have with that are many, and most of that revolve around the EULA. (End User License Agreement)
Does anyone read these? I did a couple of times and boy oh boy, you need a lawyer to figure it out!
If you purchase a computer with an operating system that dies than the OS dies when the computer does. Unlike the old days of DOS and or early Windows.
When it gets right down to it the expensive part of the computer is not the hardware, but the software. The OS is about $150 or so… Ok I can stomach that.
Office full blown is $500! Does it die with the computer?
The Adobe suite is off the charts expensive, does it die with the computer?
Why is it that a computer running an OS runs just fine and as time goes by it slows down? Does the computer just get tired?
Three finger solute brings this up…
It has a lot to do with the patches and ad-ons that we do to them. A computer is much like a baby. Everything that you do to it, or with it from its “birth,” has some effect on it.
Herbie Pulling a trailer and from the 1954 movie the long long trailer Ricky and Lucy pulling a trailer full of rocks.
I equate it to a car. Let’s say your car is a Volkswagen beetle that new, gets you down the road and does what you want it to do. After a few months it is not quite as Zippy as it was earlier and after a year it starts showing its age. You take it in for a tune-up, start using a higher grade of gasoline and for a while it works fair. Then after a while going up hills are a struggle. After downshifting to 2cnd you make it up the hills but you remember earlier in its life when maybe you only had to downshift to 3rd but for the most part; not at all.
After much head scratching you start looking at every little detail of your poor car. Suddenly you find out that your partner in crime has secretly had a fascination with collecting rocks. Your poor car is hauling tons of rocks in the “bonnet” under the back seat, and even the glove box!
Some of the rocks have been there so long that they have become part of the car! After removing all of the rocks that you can; the car once again makes it up the hills but not as fast as it did when it was new.
Your computer when new; was the fastest thing around, if you are like me, you over buy!
After months and maybe years the computer much like the car has the occasional issue with web sites, or e-mail or loading a picture file to edit.
Time to look for rocks.
You buy a product like Crap Cleaner and you let it work its magic. Not before too long, your computer is running “ok” so you push on.
After a few years Crap Cleaner no longer does it. You enlist the help of someone like myself. I hunt and kill malware and other viruses. I check for the latest drivers and work my magic and manage to get your computer running as it should, but it is not as good as it was new.
Yep, that is me….
I can tell you that it is most probably not the hardware. I can prove it to you by installing another hard drive and installing the virgin OS that your machine came with. The machine will behave just like it did out of the box, until you put your “stuff” back on it, most of the time.
One of the things that I find the most, is people install all of this “stuff.” It all looks cool until you see that your computer is full of trial-ware, and other “stuff” that you don’t use. Delete it or “uninstall it.”
A quick look at the startup software will usually tell you that you have too much crap starting up.
A CTRL ALT DELETE or three finger solute will bring up a menu which you can then bring up task manager. Look at the processes utilization and so forth and see where it is. Frequently I see machines that have used all of the allotted memory and are now into virtual memory. Virtual memory is orders of magnitude slower than “real memory” as it is swapping to your hard drive. Troubleshoot the issues and remove programs or processes that are starting up that you really don’t need. The goal is to keep the machine using only real memory and not have to deal with a bunch of “Rocks!”
Hardware dust bunnies
I have seen worse!
They are overclocking some computer so they have taken to using water cooling systems much like they did back in the days of the Amdahl MainFrame’s.
There is a special breed of animal that I liken to gremlins. They live inside your computer and other electronic “stuff.” They plug up the vents, restrict air flow and clog up fans and get inside your CD Rom drive stopping it from working, even inside your floppy drive if you still have one. These are the ever present Dust Bunnies that once only lived under beds and furniture. Now they have found a new occupation destroying electronic stuff and they are not even cute!
Someone had way too much time on their hands…
Just like Gremlins, don’t get water anywhere near them!
One thing that I never overlook is cleanliness of the machine. These things are ecological disasters when it comes to dust! If Hoover was smart they would build a combo PC / Air Cleaner as these things really do look like the inside of the vacuum cleaner bag. If you have pets or maybe are in a warehouse etc. the problem is exacerbated. While I really want to title this BJ, I decided that might be too crass. You get the idea, take it outside and blow the crap out of it, “literally,” with an air compressor if you have it, or that expensive canned air. I clean mine out every 6 months and that goes double for laptops as people use those things in strange places, even on their bed where the machine can’t breathe correctly! Laptops should be used on a hard surface, not carpet, couches or beds!
These machine generate heat and must be adequately cooled. If your machine is still running warm after the BJ, consider buying and installing a better CPU cooler and even more fans for the case.
While I am talking about hardware, make certain that your power supply is up to the task at hand. It needs to be able to produce more wattage than you need and it should have a large fan in it that moves lots of air. Today they have power supplies that have plug in cables that give you the ability to only use that which you need in the way of cables and not have a lot of extra wire floating around inside the box! Anything in there that you don’t need can obstruct air flow.
While I am talking about cables, dress them properly. They should be neatly tied together and routed where they do not obstruct a fan from turning and if possible away from air paths so cool air can make its way through the case.
Antivirus is Key to computer users today and more critical than ever before. While my tin foil hat side of me thinks that the creators of this software are all out to be better than the next guy by actually producing and passing the thousands of viruses out there; I don’t have the smoking gun. I see that this is a huge industry and where there is money there is greed / motive. I cannot fathom why anyone would sit around in their mother’s basement in their underwear writing destructive viruses if they cannot see the effect of their work and are not being paid.
Eww, I just about feel bad putting this here….
My current favorites are Eset Node 32 and Trend Micro. I also have Norton running on a PC that I use infrequently and do not depend upon or even allow anything “free” other than defender on my network / lab computers / home computers. Free is not worth what you pay for it! Defender is not the end all be all product and I would never depend upon it as my sole protection. That would be like people practicing the “rhythm method” for birth control, you know what they call those folks right? Parents!
Get the latest updates
Allow the stinking updates from Microsoft as they have a vested interest in your machine working properly. Like the antivirus folks who work tirelessly to constantly put out new updates, so does Microsoft. It may be a simple tweak and yes, they frequently allow stuff out that should be tested more thoroughly so you may want to wait for a few days before you actually install it yourself but, most of the time they are the thing to do.
Turn off indexing
By default Windows has indexing turned on. As your computer ages and you fill up those massive terabyte hard drives with stuff, the computer uses valuable horse power to index all of your stuff. That can slow your machine down to a crawl! Unless you search for files constantly turn off indexing! If you still want to have faster access to certain files you can selectively index.
After all else, run check-disk and then defrag your hard drive. If during the checkdsk process you find bad sectors don’t wait, stop right there and back up everything and replace the hard drive! Most all electronic equipment is rated in MTBF or (mean time between failure.) It is not a matter of “if” but when it will fail.
Let it Die
XP is dead, get over it. End of life software keeps those that write the stuff in business. Software is an incredibly dynamic industry. Linux is more static if you want to learn something totally new but even it changes.
Machines that run DOS have been re-cycled and are polluting third world countries where some send old boards and parts to allow low budget workers to re-claim precious metals at risk to the person and their ecology. If old Al really wanted to something of value, he would tackle this issue as those people are seriously polluting their environment as our garbage is a job for them. Bottom line, re-cycle your old hardware in a responsible manner. PC’s are not an investment in hardware but rather for what they do! They have a finite life and when they start sucking the life out of you by you having to baby them, wait on them and spend your hard earned money to “fix them” get a new one!
If I had a nickle for every time the phone rang asking me what do I do now with this C thing….!
If you decide to re-cycle any old computer and you are worried about your “information, as you should be” remove the hard drive and hang on to it. When you are certain that you no longer will need anything that possibly could be on it, take your drill and drill a hole, straight through it, hit it with a hammer multiple times, after dropping it on a cement surface, and then put the remains into the recycle bin. Wear your safety glasses just in case….
I am experienced in forensic computing so trust me, if you do any of the above, or some combination, nobody will get anything off of it, ever!
Crap Cleaner as part of its program has something called Drive Wiper. That may very well do it, without all of the destructive energy being spent. Once you run it everything is gone to the great bit bucket in the sky, or basement..
Who am I?
I am just a guy who has been working with computers since before Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were anyone, period! The internet was not around and Al Gore was still inventing the calculator to determine how much to charge for green-house gas emissions, from the basement in his mansion!
Al, what can be said?
Actually a lot, can you say “MEME,” I bet you can…
There was no e-mail, no internet; and porn was not digital anywhere! There was still Greg Shorthand and Secretaries were a hot commodity, as executives could not construct a proper sentence without them.
First picture of something racy that was found on the internet I think using “gopher.”
Early Internet usage… This is actually advanced as there is a browser!
I lecture, consult, and when time permits, give back to the community with things like this “free advice or entertainment.”
Re-post this if you think that it will help your folks, or readers, or some family member that wonders why their computer is “so slow!” just don’t edit it and make sure proper credit is given. Thanks!
Just in case: There are no warranties expressed or implied with this “free advice” for the legal record, let’s call this “entertainment” as I know that there are those out there that will do something to their computer and try to claim that this blog was in some way responsible and they might even be the ambulance chaser attorney type, that sees a lawsuit in a free lunch!
So, anything that you read here is “entertainment” and if you should try this at home, you do so at your own peril, if something goes awry! “Plain language…if you stuff it up” I am not responsible.
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