Tag Archive | fix

Black screen with mouse after Windows login

Note to self

  1. Booted Win 10 machine.
  2. Got usual login screen.
  3. Logged in as per usual.
  4. Got a black screen with a working, visible mouse pointer.
  5. Ctrl-Alt-Del.
  6. Got the menu and chose Task Manager.
  7. Went to start up items and disabled most items, but enabled ‘Lenovo Utility’.
  8. Used Ctrl-Alt-Del to reboot.
  9. Got the screen back.

Of course, I’ve skipped all the messing around that I really did.

I don’t know why. Other non-admin account on the machine worked fine, so something funny happened in a setting somewhere. Anyway, there you go.

Win 10

A free Sanplé

Ever heard of a Sanplé 3000EL? I am guessing EL means electric.

looks like a black plastic suitcase

The case

front and above view of the machine

The Sanplé

Advertised as ‘keys stuck’ for free. Clearly otherwise in very good nick. I’d almost say perfect.

Plug in, turn on, verify that the belt is in good nick but the fluted rod cannot turn. Notice the first problem — return band is all over the place…

shows the loose return string

Spot the loose return string

Slip the band back into place; that seems to have fixed some of the problems, but the return still doe not work. Time to dismantle… undo screws in middle of feet and under carriage ends. Also undid the screws that that hold the plastic cover on the carriage and removed that.

Now, tilt and remove the top.

getting the top off

Once the bottom is removed, it is easy to tilt the top and get if off past the carriage.

With the top off; note the conventional ribbons rather than some custom cassette (see Brother 3912) — good. Very plasticky — the spool mountings, for example, are almost entirely plastic. I’d guess this is a very late example of an electric basket typewriter.

Another photo

General top view, sans case

Space bar works, return does not, nor do any letter keys — shaft is not turning. Looks like the return key is not releasing and the lug is not letting go of the end of the fluted shaft.

Photo of the right side of the machine

The tip of the screwdriver shows the stop that prevents the fluted rod from turning.

Following a trail of rods and levers shows that a sliding strip at the back is connected to the carriage stop. When the carriage returns, it should hit the stop, which disengages the lug in the picture above and allows the fluted rod to rotate. This is currently not happening. If I give the carriage a push, I can force it to work.

the sliding rod that disengages the return mechanism and lets the fluted rod rotate; it was sticky

The screwdriver points to the sliding rod that needed a light oil to slide properly.

Give the strip a drop of sewing machine oil and clean the carriage movement to make it move more easily so it can whack into the stop harder and so release the return more cleanly.

That sort of works; it looks like the return and draw bands could use more tension; or just a clean and some use. Gave some key points a thorough clean and a light oil, wiping off as much oil as I could after application. Yes, that seems to help. Works pretty well now.

The typing feel is very light once it works. The keys respond well, the sound is not too loud, and the alignment is adequate though no more. The electric return is slow. Perhaps the springs have got old and soft, I don’t know. But otherwise it seems to perform well. There is a lug on the right for attaching a spring, but it’s not clear where it would go. There’s no exclamation mark — I guess we use a single quote ‘ and backspace and a stop . to get !

A sort of distorted 70 or 10 with a back-to-back A and R below.

The symbol on the typebars

Because the return spring seems too weak, when I hit return close to the start of a line, the carriage does not get up enough speed to actuate the return release, ad the thing jams up. The solution is to tug on the carriage end to trip the release. If you’re too slow, the drive band may slip off … this seems to be improving with use.

I can’t find out much about it. There are no identifying marks on the chassis anywhere (that I can find). Is it a Citizen? Nakajima? I’ve no idea, though the repeat spacer makes it look like a cheaper Brother (were Brothers ever this plasticky?). On the typebars, between the upper and lower case letters, is a thing that could be a 10 or a 70, but looks more like a tent peg followed by a high o, and below that what looks like an underlined AR with the letters merged, kind of like they’re back to back. Apart from the badge on the casing and the serial number on the back:

Made in Japan, Ser. No. 006375

that’s it. No more. For free, it’s very nice. Still a bit gummy, though.

Oh, and here’s the character set, though low quality — I’ve not yet replaced the ribbon and so the type was very faint and the scan was very noisy. I’ve used ImageJ to increase the contrast, and it’s still not very good. Nothing interesting in this font.

The character set of the Sanplé 3000EL

Free! Free at last!

Time fixes the EP44

While I was monkeying around with my Brother EP44 — one funky old bit of hardware — I managed to send it some weird code that caused it to print really condensed characters and not respond to the return key… I was trying to use it as a serial printer, which worked on Windows via a USB to serial adapter and on Linux with a hardware serial port, but I could not get it to work on Linux via a USB adapter.

After I messed with it, whether I was typing or sending to it from the computer, the text looked like this:

Scan of bad text

Weird condensed text from my EP44 — not what I wanted to see…

And I thought maybe I’d bricked the thing. I tried turning it off and on again and suchlike, and there’s some kind of reset key combination too (turn it on with the red C key depressed), but that did not help. I took out the batteries for varying lengths of time and put them back in. No good.

As a last resort, I took the batteries out and left it in a cupboard for months, hoping that when it reinitialised it would be all right. Yes, I was hoping for some kind of magic to occur. And it did.

Here is the most recent typing test:

a scan of the printout -- looks great!

Character set from the EP44 — ‘a’ is used to demonstrate the range of accents available

So it’s alive! I should note that I scanned the type at 600 by 600 greyscale using xsane, then used ImageJ to threshold it. That makes it look very black. The original scan looks more like this:

The scan before thresholding

It would not look so bad if I used clean, flat paper! Also, the fax roll is so thin it should really be backed when scanning. The thresholded image gives a good idea of the glyph shapes and the wide range of choices. The accent characters can be put above any character you like — they print, but do not move the typehead, then the next character goes underneath.


Serial number

The logo on the EP44



SanDisk Sansa View weird behaviour

Old mp3 player, SanDisk Sansa View Version 01.03.02P. Plugged into computer, computer would not see it. mp3 player worked fine. Screen worked, it showed it was charging, but neither Windows 7 nor Linux could see it; did not show up with dmesg or lsusb.

Tried all sorts of things. Because it was not detected, when plugged into the PC it could be turned off and on as if not plugged in. I could step through the menus.

Weirdly, when I tried to actually play a file, then it suddenly woke up and connected to the PC (Win or Lin) and I could see the files.

Just a hint for anyone suffering…


Hints, lies and guesses.

Adobe Acrobat DC wrong icon

At some point (I did not notice at the time), the icon for Acrobat Reader DC in the taskbar and on the Start menu changed to be that of IrfanView. Don’t know why.

Note: I am using up-to-date versions of both Windows 10 and Acrobat Reader DC (as of October 2018).

Tried right-click and drilling down to properties, but the Change Icon button was greyed out.

In the end, did the following.

(1) In the Start menu, found Acrobat Reader DC and right-clicked and selected More and Open File Location. That opened C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs. I then deleted the shortcut.

(2) Unpinned shortcut from the taskbar.

(3) Navigated to C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat Reader DC\Reader and right-clicked on AcroRd32.exe and selected Create Shortcut. It said it could not do it here but it could put one on the desktop. I agreed, and it did so.

(4) The one on the desktop had the correct icon. Copied it into C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs and into the taskbar, and the problem was fixed.

Notes: Do not know if it will recur. This is a fix, not a solution. Also, some steps may require administrator rights — like copying into and deleting from C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs.

But at least I can see what’s what now.

What’s what.

Repairing a Casiowriter cw-16: Pictures for Sasha

This is a few more details of the repair that I referred to in this post. It was a very tricky operation, and in giving some details on what I did, I did not want to much dismantle my machine in case I could not get it back together… so this is not completely comprehensive… Here we go.

First, we just take off the semitransparent ribbon cover.

Photo of typewriter

Casiowriter cw-16, top view.

Then, take a close look at the ribbon cassette holder, especially the metal plate that sits on top. If you look closely at the metal plate, you can see that there’s a little bent-down tab on the top edge (as oriented in the photo below). It acts like a spring, holding it in place. A small flat head screwdriver and bit bit of pressing and pulling should allow the plate to be popped off.

Photo of the plate the ribbon sits on

The ribbon cassette holder on the Casiowriter cw-16.

When that’s done, it looks something like the picture below. I have left this as a big image, so you can blow it up and try to see some details.

Photo of the gears that drag the ribbon

Details of the problem part.

Now, in the end I pulled off some more parts — I got that flat ribbon cable that passes around the spindle out of the way, and messed around very gingerly. I can’t say that I had to do that — it might be fixable in place. I was lucky enough to find the little metal shaft that the gear runs on also inside the typewriter. I then put the gear on the shaft, put the tiniest bit of glue on the shaft, using the end of a toothpick, and pushed the shaft back into place using a bit of bent metal. The glue was to both hold the shaft in and fix the crack in the bracket, as per the illustration below. When I pushed it in without the glue, the crack meant the shaft did not stay in place and it fell off again.

xFig drawing of the piece

Rough diagram of the bracket and where the crack was

If the shaft is missing, a suitable short screw or something might do the job.

The tensioning spring needs to be noted. Take lots of photos while working, and take care to avoid any bits pinging across the workshop when they come loose…

NOTE: This does not need to be fixed if using thermal paper and no ribbon, and given that the ribbon cannot be easily replaced (no longer being made, as far as I know), you have the option to just get a fax roll from an office supplies place. Just make sure it is full width, not cash register paper…


Good luck.

Fixing a Pi

Raspberry Pi (running Raspbian) acting up. Throwing errors and seg faults on trying to update. apt-get keeps asking me to run

$ apt-get -f install


dpkg --configure -a

And then now and again apt-get itself was throwing seg faults! Or I’d update something and then it would forget I had done so. Odd.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that maybe the SD card was on the fritz. Did the following:

Inserted SD card into desktop Linux machine. Worked out which device it was mounted at. It was /dev/sde. Made a direct copy of the card:

$ sudo dd if=/dev/sde of=picard.img

(if = input file system, of = output file system, or something like that) removed card, inserted blank of same size. Checked it was also mounted at /dev/sde; yes.

sudo dd of=/dev/sde if=picard.img

7761920+0 records in
7761920+0 records out
3974103040 bytes (4.0 GB, 3.7 GiB) copied, 1107.12 s, 3.6 MB/s

Rebooted RPi on new card.

Was able to run apt-get update and all that with no problems.




Getting a2ps to work

Installing a2ps on my Debian Linux box.

sudo apt-get install a2ps

and since I’d been printing from the GUI, had to define the default printer

$ lpstat -p -d

printer Brother-HL-5350DN is idle.  enabled since Thu 19 Apr 2018 20:31:20 AEST
printer Stylus-TX100 is idle.  enabled since Fri 06 Apr 2018 20:23:28 AEST

$ lpoptions -d Brother-HL-5350DN

Then tested a file using a2ps and got this on the printed sheet:


which is not very helpful. Tried changing font by specifying a different prologue; same problem.

Can test by sending output to a file:

$ a2ps input.txt  -o output.ps

$ gv output.ps

Output to a file looks fine. So problem is that it is not a PostScript printer. Duh! Took me too long to twig, but I got there in the end. Plain text works fine — I can lp the file, for example, and get a good result.

So what to do?

$ info a2ps

and hunt around.

My printer is a PCL printer (printer command language, like most HP-clone ones) and a good reliable subset of PCL can be obtained by pretending it is a LaserJet 4  (ljet4 in GhostScript) (600 dpi is enough for this).

So, here is my a2ps config file:

$ cat .a2ps/a2psrc
Options: --medium=A4
Options: --sides=2
Options: -2
Options: -d Brother-HL-5350DN
Options: --prologue=fixed
Printer: Brother-HL-5350DN \
       | gs -q -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=ljet4 -sOutputFile=- - -c quit\
       | lp -d Brother-HL-5350DN

And this gives me the output I wanted. I might need to add ‘tumble’.


Inkscape windows moving offscreen when opening files

So I open Inkscape in Cygwin (current Cygwin, current Cygwin Inkscape packge, circa March 2018) and it’s fine, but then I open a file and it relocates the window off the top left of the screen.

Screen shot of the window in the wrong place.

Inkscape window moves itself to off the top-left when opeining a file via Inkscape dialog…

This happens whether I launch from the XDG menu or from a terminal (mintty or xterm does not matter). I launch Inkscape, and it’s fine, then I use the Inkscape dialog to open a file and, whoosh, the Inkscape window relocates off the top-left and I can’t get at the menus or drag it back.

Now, I’ve got 2 monitors, and the right-hand one is taller than the leftt, and I suspect it’s putting the window at the top-left of where it would be if the left-hand monitor was a big as the right.

Just a guess.

Anyway, can’t drag it back.

Tried wmctrl, just to get window properties:

$ wmctrl -l
Cannot get client list properties.

A-ha! Perhaps the problem is because I am not running it through a window manager… what if I do?

Launched FVWM and launched Inkscape from a terminal inside FVWM…

Yep, that fixed it. Still goes to top-left, but now it’s top-left of the FVWM desktop, which I can see.

I mostly use Cygwin by running XWin Server, which then sits in the Windows tray and lets me run X applications without needing a window manager. But I am guessing Inkscape tries to get some numbers from the WM, and if there isn’t one…

So, with FVWM running:

$ wmctrl -l
0x01000023  0 BIO-C-15 ~
0x00e0000b  0 BIO-C-15 cycle.emf - Inkscape
0x00c00023  0 BIO-C-15 ~

Yep, it’s working now.

Why does it relocate the Inkscape window?

Anyway, I can use it now.


Acrobat Reader gives blank ‘Save’ or ‘Save As’ screen

Went to save an annotated document in Acrobat Reader DC (on Win 7) and got a blank dialogue box:

Screenshot of the blank and useless 'Save' screen Acrobat sometimes gives.

Acrobat’s blank ‘Save’ or ‘Save as’ screen.

Thought it might be to do with the comments, but it’s actually to do with Adobe’s obsession with driving custom online — fortunately, the fix is simple:

Go to

Edit → Preferences → General

and deselect anything to do with online storage — in the case below, it is ‘Show online storage when saving/opening files’:

Screenshot of the Preferencesd menu and where to turn off 'Show online storage when saving files'.

Where to make the change.

Voila (as they say, which is odd ‘cos I thought it was a cross between a violin and a tuba).