Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Video Card Kills Cannon Canoscan Toolbox 5

I'm not sure who deserves recognition on this one, the wonky video card; its creator or manufacturer, or Cannon for its software or scanner.

I recently installed a second video card into my computer. It was acting weird and at times it was crashing. When it was working it felt like the machine was running slower. I lived with it and got it somewhat stable, but still things felt slow. I was willing to live with that for a while in order to have a dual monitor setup until I could do something else.

I have been scanning in a bunch of documents and the pile was almost gone. I loaded up the Canonscan Toolbar version 5 and chose PDF as I have been doing for hundreds of documents. The PDF scan box came up and I clicked scan. It gave me this error box that stated:

Unable to open TWAIN source
Please check connection
Then re-start Toolbox

I tried unplugging the power and plugging the scanner back in. I tried unplugging the USB cable from the scanner and plugging it back in. I tried rebooting. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the Canoscan Toolbox. I tried hacking registry keys. I had even at one point tried to fix I am going to explain below and that didn't work either at that time. I tried apply all of the updates that seemed reasonable from Windows Update. I tried scanning with Windows Live Photo Galery and that scanned fine. I removed the offending video card. I loaded a virtual machine with VMWare Player and it scanned fine with the Canoscan Toolbox software installed in it. The only time it didn't work was when the host's Windows could not even install the driver, but I got around that somehow.

I ended up finding that some had found it helpful to change the windows path variable. I have been running Canoscan Toolbox with this Cannon 4400F scanner for years and never had to hack the path variable, but I tried it anyway. As I said I did it twice during the process and it failed to be of help the first time. After installing and unstalling it got removed from the path again.

The path that needed to be added to the Windows path variable was C:\Windows\twain_32\CNQ4803. I have heard that the last folder in this path is specific to each scanner. This one is for a Cannon 4400F.

After that it began working again.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

MagicJack Free, But Not Unlimited

I have used MagicJack for years with occasional big problems here and there, but when it works it is great and generally works for months without issue.

Recently I had a friend ask me if I wanted their MagicJack, since their service had been cut off.  They said that they had gone over a cap that MagicJack has on number of phone numbers you can call in a day.  You are limited to fifty calls per day.

I noticed a thread online that stated that they were a low usage user.  Then one day they had a large call volume day, which went over the fifty call limit and they were immediately cut off.  They argued that since their usage was never even close to fifty phone numbers called on any other day, to be cut off for one large day was unfair.  They also argued that the wording of the Terms of Service indicated 50 calls per day everyday.

There has also been some discussion of long calls being disconnected.  MagicJack customer service seems to be blaming it on an over heated USB device or slow internet connection, in sprite of people claiming that it drops at exactly two hours.

Others have noted that MagicJack can cut off your service if you make an excessive number of calls.  The terms of service are unclear.  It says something about 20-30 times the average use.  They don't define average use, so it is hard to determine how this limit would impact you.

I personally think that 20-30 times average use is fine, but would like a quantification of what that is.  I think that the two hour call limit is stupid, but likely something most folks can live with.  If you happen to be on the phone with grandma for two hours and get cut off, call her back.

The number that bugs me is the 50 phone numbers called per day limit.  This seems like a bad restriction.  While I think that most users won't hit that limit I think that number should be a lot higher, if there has to be a number at all.

It was my understanding when I got the device years ago that MagicJack made its money by being a backbone provider and routing calls in a way that made them money.  It appears that on outbound calls they don't make money on them.  Perhaps this is similar to when I use Google Chat to send SMS messages I can only send 50 messages.  When I send a message it decrements my available messages to send.  When I receive a message my available messages to send goes up by 5, capping out at 50.  Perhaps Google also makes money on received messages, but has to potentially pay for sent messages.

Just be aware that MagicJack allows you to make free calls (after the yearly fee is paid), but not unlimited calls.

If you have a business with high call volume, you might want to get multiple MagicJacks to mitigate the limit.  You will probably still be much cheaper than a monthly phone bill from the phone company.  You could set up a Google Voice number that rings all of the MagicJack phone numbers and answer which ever one you want, but manage you usage on each one for outbound calls.