Canon paper decoder ring and Alford Galerie Smooth Pearl on Canon iP100 with GL1

Seems like every year (?!) when I do print, I have to remember how to get the profiles right. With an old Canon iP100, the question is how to get a nice color, so here is the mapping:

The Paper codes

They have a two digit paper code system from lowest to highest quality

  • MP. Matte Paper
  • GL. Photo Paper Glossy (I and II)
  • SP. Photo Paper Plus Glossy
  • SG. Photo Paper Semi Glossy
  • PR. Photo Paper Pro (I and II)
  • PT. Photo Paper Pro Platinum

Then there is the quality code which is lower the better

So by elimination, there is no correct ICC profile for this combination, so trying this first with third party ink. This is a bad idea because without the chip, it always reports full ink, so even if all the ink is dry it doesn’t work. Main note, use standard Canon ink.

Now figuring out which color profile works but the big issue is having a good printer cartridge. We had errors with a new Canon color cartridge and the cheap OEM knockoffs do not report their ink levels correctly so the first time

  • The PR1 on Mac Photos and DxO come out very light and red
  • Photoshop with Galerie for Canon Pro9000 comes out super saturated like a Fujifilm or Kodachrome, but is much better. The Galerie profiles are carefully coded, so you know how to set the many Photoshop parameters
  • The PR1 for iP100 comes out very dark and saturated but this is on the unreliable third party ink.
  • The GL2 also has a red cast on the Galerie paper with Perceptual and Relative colorimetric.
  • SP2/SG2 looks the closest with perceptual and black point compensation but it still very read

So we tried this with both HP Glossy and also Alford Galerie and found that with Photoshop that GL1 did work

  • GL3 was what was supposed to work from our last use five years (?!) ago and this seems OK, actually about the same as GL1
  • PR1 also seems to work

No recourse even from Tim Cook, so Looking hard at HP, Dell and Lenovo

Well the fragility of MacBook Pros has me looking for new laptop recommendations. I by the way did tweet to #tim_cook and apples executive support tram responded awesomely fast. 

The main news is that there is no recourse from what level 2 tech support says through that channel. Warranty decisions are made at the descretion of the local Apple Store manager is nothing that they are allowed to do. Net, net, better make sure to send Christmas cookies to your local Apple Store manager early and often if you’ve got a bunch of these. And make sure your purchases are aggregated in an Apple business account etc. 

In addition, short battery life and shallow keyboard, what’s a person to do who wants. Here’s a quick sweep of current thin and light notebooks that can work for a software developer. I used the same criteria as last years MacBook Pro 2015 with one exception (USB C). PC Magazine had a list. 

  1. Reliable and some sort of decent three year service plan (and with reasonable handling of accidental damage more along the lines of iPhone Applecare not MacBook policies)
  2. 4.5 pounds and not a gigantic brick of an adapter so overall
  3. Thin at 7-12mm or so not these big thick gaming notebooks that are 25mm
  4. At least 2.5k screen at 15 inches as 13 inches is too small for multiple windows imho. IPS bright screen. 
  5. 512TB SSD NVMe as disk is the big issue
  6. 16GB ram (ok 33GB is better but no current thin and light has it due to intel availability problems)
  7. At least 6-7 real hours of battery life (hopefully without the careful babying the mbp2016 needs)
  8. USB C charger. I admit it I’m kind of addicted to the idea that you don’t have to buy a proprietary charger (the one good idea from mbp16)
  9. High speed offboard. At least 10Gbps USB 3.1 supported ASP for fast attached SSD access and ideally future proofed to Thunderbolt 3  40Gbps

So here is what I’ve found. I think Mike will be happy. As an aside I think all these vendors should emulate what Mike Sievert et al at T-Mobile are doing. Have a friends and family discount and executive support team to go after influencers and flip them. Super impressive what they’ve done if yin watch Facebook et al. 

HP Laptops

Ok they definitely have reliability issues and you need a massive decoder ring. 

First you need to understand their fairly random (at least to me brand names). This is way more complicated than MacBook vs MacBook Pro. The net is

  1. Spectre. Their premium line. Most expensive. Latest technology. I guess you could call them MacBook Pro killers. 
  2. Envy. Their MacBook killer so thin and light with dedicated GPUs. 
  3. Elitebook. For big companies. They have biometrics etc. 
  4. ProBook. Small business and cheaper
  5. ZBook. For creatives. And no I don’t really understand what that means. But they are. If and heavy at 5.5 pounds plus with Nvidia GPUs 
  6. Notebook. Budget consumer machines. 
  7. Pavillion. Cheap spectres (wait I thought that is what an Envy is)
  8. Omen. Big loud and low battery life. In other words perfect for gamers. 
  9. Chromebooks. Even Cheap laptops running chrome. The so called student market. 
  10. Stream. Cheap laptops running windows. 

The model number of it has it has this decoder. If it says 440 this means

  1. The hundred digit is the series the higher the better so a 640 is better than a 440
  2. The tens digit is the size of the screen. So 14 is 4, 15 is 5
  3. Last digit is 0 for Intel and 5 for AMD

Then there is a modifier which is mainly features a developer doesn’t use too much:

  1. x360 means convertible notebook. The screen flips all the way around so u can use way. Not super useful for devs
  2. x2. A detachable screen like a SurfacePro and a iPad Pro competitor usually 
  3. t means a touch screen notebook

Finally to distinguish model Years the can be a G followed by the generation. Higher is better so a G5 means fifth generation. 

And really finally you want to look at their Applecare equivalents. Given the many reliability issues reported having a good warranty is crucial. They have 2 and 3 year warranties. And also have a accident policy. The $200 accident policy includes a feature. If you don’t use it you get your money back. How cool so that?

Best choices instead of MacBook Pro 15

Whew with that is a lot to know so here are the machines that meet the spec going ordered by newest units. So here are MacBook Pro competitors:

Best choices for MacBook Pro 13

The criteria here is a 13 inch screen with integrated graphics. Best for browsing and general web use

  • Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1. This is a 14″ laptop with integrated graphics and 22 hour battery life?!
  • Razer Blade (early 2017). Also 14″ but with gtx 1050. $2400 with 4K display. .7 x 25.6mm or 19mm. TB3 and USB 3.0. 10 hour battery. This is actually a great choice but has reliability and support problems. 

    MacBook Pros 2016 are super fragile screens beware of buying them

    Ok, I’ve had three cases now of MacBook Pro 2016 which have screen cracks from things that is should not. The repair cost is $700 and they will not cover it under AppleCare

    1. Closing your laptop on an Ethernet adapter. This will totally crack your screen and this is called accidental damage.
    2. Closing your laptop on your Apple ear plugs and this will crack it
    3. Dropping a laptop even with a case will cause a crack, even if there is a screen crack they will not fix anything like USB C or any motherboard problem because they claim it is damaged.

    Net, net, if you are committed to Apple you should also know that your repair bill are going to be super high. Recommendations are:

    1. Get a case for the thing.
    2. If anything breaks on your MacBook run to the store and get it fixed before the screen cracks.

    Net, net, with the battery life reduction and this warranty issue and the super high prices, I can’t recommend buying MacBook Pro’s anymore. The older machines are pretty good by the way and just as fast:

    1. so a good MacBook Pro 2015 and they are way more durable.
    2. A cheaper windows machine even if they break, they are half the price. Dell makes a decent one as does ASUS.

    Yakima jetstream vs whispbar

    Man I’m sure sad Yakima is discontinuing the whispbar. More expensive and not as strong but they really are totally silent and have essentially no impact on gas mileage. 

    We have whispbar on a 2013 Honda Fit and it is terrific. We have the new jetstream on a 2016 fit and it’s super noisy. May try a fairing. 

    Net net get the whispbar if u can and for newer cars I’ll have to try a fairing. 

    Net, net if your loads are light and you don’t want a lot of noise go with whispbar. They say its being discontinued but the site is still up so get it while the getting is good. 

    Nice thing is that the t connector thingy works on both so you can have a nice solid connection to your bike rack. 

    Programming your Di2 shifters and getting cog information

    A zillion years ago, the old Campy computer told you what gear you were in. How much work is it to get back to that.

    Also Shimano is introducing synchronized shifting. That is, one shift and the bike computer decides when to move the front derailleur. Pretty handy. But getting it on an existing bike requite some potential hardware upgrades and firmware updates.

    The confusing thing is that the electronics are actually in the battery unit, so you need to get so you can use the latest e-tube software:

    1. The newest battery unit.
    2. The newest junction box normally at the stem called the EW-90A, this thing has a port on the side of the BCR2 and three wires coming out, one to each shifter and then one to the battery. It also has a button at the bottom that is used to select the shift mode,
    3. The newest USB connection to your Windows machine called the Di2 BCR2 which connects into the junction box that is normally at the stem of your bike
    4. The newest wireless connection called D-fly named EW-WU101. This supports both Bluetooth and Ant output to compatible head units like the Garmin 820 (but not the 800) and the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt. The big advantage here is that you get a read out of what cog you are on and how much battery you have left. Also, it let’s you program the thing with the Shimano iOS and Android applications rather than just Windows. This box is not quite available but should be in June 2017.

    This gives you two big features:

    1. Syncho-Shift. This is the smart shifting mode, you change it by pushing on the button underneath your junction box twice. This takes you through manual mode where the red and light are solid, the semi-automatic which is two blinks and full automatic which is three blinks. If you have a compatible head unit, you can program it from there or from the e-tube application on your phone.

    Drone insurance, tracking and accessories

    Well, I think that keeping a drone investment safe is pretty important, so for about 30% of the cost of a drone, here is what you can do:

    Insurance

    1. $99 DJI Refresh. This is like Applecare, you buy at the DJI Store and then within 48 hours of activation type in your drone serial number. You take a broken drone and return to them up to twice a year and get a new one for $79 and $129. Pretty good deal.
    2. Drone insurance. Allstate apparently will insure your drone for $60 a year.

    Drone tracking

    For $45, you can get RF-V16 which is a 2G drone tracker (which is getting discontinued around the US), you do need a sim for this. There are also 3D printed holders for it which Amazon has plenty of. Finally, the actually programming is a little complicated.

    You can use Trackimo for $140 plus a plan after the first year. Then you need a Tile ($20) for when you get close for either of these.

    Alternatively, you can buck up for the $220 Marco Polo. This doesn’t use cellular (so works when you are out of cellular for up to two miles plus it also acts like the Tile. It’s also $290 for two as you just need the ultra lightweight tracker.

    Accessories

    Corsair power cables and Yakima SKS locks

    OK more strange accessories:

    1. Be careful when you plug a modular connector into a power supply. There isn’t a standard. So if you lose the bag of connectors, don’t just find a random one. It is expensive to buy replacement cables ($50 for cables when the power supply is $120 feels like highway robbery), but there aren’t many choices. So if you have a Corsair, you need to get genuine Corsair replacements.
    2. And if you buy Yakima or Thule racks, it may seem silly, but spend the money on getting the same key cores. That way you don’t (like me!) have to have a zillion keys all the way around. They are about $12 per core. As an aside, if you forget what core you have, then one small comfort is that these are really nuisance deterrents, Yakima only has 25 or so different A-cores, so get 25x$4 worth of keys and you can open just about anything.

    Reflections on customer service and gig economy

    Well the gig or outsource economy is in full swing and since it is impossible not to interact with it, I thought I’d note the last three and make some observations:

    Buying with e-certificates at Lowe’s.

    This shows why competing with Amazon is so hard. They offer huge discounts vs Amazon. Beside free shipping, if you use a click through site, you get 5% off and then with Discover, you can get an additional 10% off using e-certificates. In trying to checkout, the site failed with an edge case. Lots of e-certificates and then trying to add a new credit card. The result was that all the e-certificates were marked with zero balance?!. Trying to chat resulted in quick service, the guy (“Charlie”) just said, you need to call the issuer and thanked me and then hung up. Obviously, he’s going to get a bonus clearing customers and with no customer satisfaction metric, how is Lowe’s to know.

    Then an hour long call with a super nice grandmother (two kids) working hard to figure out what happened. After an hour, she called another hard working person in the gift certificates department to get the number unwedged. And at the end, I got the order, but it took an hour. I was super happy, but when I tried to click on “1” at the end to give good feedback, I got the message, “this center is no longer taking customer feedback”

    Net, net I got the order done, but it’s just sad to me, this really wonderful person who did a great job covering for Lowe’s really hard time keeping up with the market leader in e-commerce not only didn’t get credit, but I’m sure the hour long call is not going to reflect well on her stats. And even if it did, she’s just a gig economy worker, so what’s her career path anyway.

    It’s sad because so many companies are not “Day One” Amazon companies, but instead, try to lower cost outsource it all and they lose what is their greatest asset, people who care.

    Broken drone at B&H

    Another catastrophe, buying a drone, it doesn’t work out of the box. Calling on a Sunday and you hear that they don’t handle this directly but outsource it, so call again tomorrow. The next day, I get routed to some back end fulfillment house, they give me an RMA and I send it off.

    Now how is B&H ever supposed to know that these guys did an awesome, awesome job, I looked at the address, somewhere in New Jersey and it is actually addressed to a real human. I don’t know if I will actually get my money back, but wow what a great experience.

    Again, I wonder, with all this outsourcing, how is the CEO of B&H every supposed to know how things are working.

    Summary

    Well I don’t know if there are any lessons to be drawn, but it is pretty clear that by cutting off the “low levels” for the “high value”, that big companies do lose something important. That is the direct feel of what happens to the hapless customer. Feeling bad about customers is part and parcel with the job (I know I’ve had those jobs), but doing something about it is super hard. Without that direct contact, what happens to all the great grandmothers who really should get promoted for making customers happy, vs. the chat bot guy moving through calls.

    Net, net, the main lesson is that all consumers have to vote with your dollars and your feet.Reward the folks who are doing a great job, but also find a way to recognize the people who do a good job despite all the efficiency metrics.

     

    Price Protection and Extended Warranty

    Ok for the truly nerdy, did you know that if you sign up for earny.co it will track your purchases and if you have a chase or Citibank card, it will take a 25% commission, but will automatically handle the refund process. A pretty good deal.

    If you want to do it manually, then Chase, Discover and Citibank all have this. Citibank is the best (so maybe a good card to use) for this. It has something called Rewind which does this automatically.

    then if you are careful, most cards from Merrill Lynch to Chase Sapphire will also double the manufacturer’s warranty. You need to register the warranty with Visa to make this all work at cardbenefitservices.com

    Mountain Hardware delight

    OK, for a long time this was one of my favorite brands, but then they bulked out and got less athletic, so I don’t normally buy their stuff anymore, but if you are lucky enough to have a discount on them, here are the best things in their line:

    • Mens’ Stretch Ozonic. The best thing is they come in S/M/L as well as Short/Regular/Long which is 30/32/34. Really convenient.
    • Hyperlamina Spark 35. In the old days, the down bags were small and light but couldn’t handle the water. Now with the Spark that tradeoff is gone, super light at sub kilo yet it handles water no problem. Miracle.
    • Monkey Man 200. Who wouldn’t love a fleece named Monkey Man, this is just below the very best made, so get it if you get a good discount.