Calculating Printer Costs and TCO

I’m currently working up an article on the total cost of ownership (TCO) for printers and choosing printers for your office, but while I work on the details (including researching costs for a variety of printers) here’s some information on the calculations involved. This is important for small to midsize offices because the variation in cost between different printer manufacturers and between low-end, midrange and high-end printers can add up to thousands of dollars a year in consumables.

Currently I’m only focusing on monochrome/black & white laser printers. The same calculations can be applied to color and multifunction/all-in-one printers as far as printing is concerned, but they don’t take into account the potential added value of the additional features (and volume of color printing will vary by office). I’m also not factoring in the cost of paper, since it’s effectively a constant – it’s unlikely that paper cost will vary based on which printer is chosen.

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Slow Startup with Multiple 'Starting' Services After Malware

I had an interesting problem with a server (Windows 2003 Standard) at a small business (6 users total) the other day – a very long startup time. The server in question is a standalone domain controller/DC as well as a database/application server and file/print server. Terminal Services is installed & configured, but rarely used – mostly for access from outside the office. Database and domain services/authentication were available fairly quickly, as were console logins (via UltraVNC/uVNC) – probably 15-20 minutes to that stage, but more than an hour before terminal services/remote desktop was available.

Digging around on the console attempting to track down the source of the problems, I found multiple services listed as “Starting” – all of them malware-based, with the actual infection cleaned out. My suspicion is that these non-startable services were causing the startup of other services to be delayed, though in this case I’m not really planning on setting up a test system to verify that.

In the rest of this post I’ll give a bit more detail on the scenario, what I found, what was needed to clean it out, and a few more notes on what I suspect was happening.

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Information Design and Graphics

While unrelated to most of the content of this site, I’d like to call your attention to David McCandless’ blog Information Is Beautiful (about graphics and data visualization) and in particular to a very nice piece on What Makes Good Information Design? – in particular the key dimensions of Interestingness, Integrity, Function and Form. […]

(Fix) 'Another Installation is Already In Progress' installing Office 2007 over Office 2000

Ran into an interesting problem this evening – I was helping someone who was having problems with installing Office 2007 on an XP system with Office 2000 (I believe Professional) installed. The problem was that when the actual installation process started, it would hang up because another installation was running.

The standard fix for that is restarting the system to let the in-progress installation do the processing that it needs a system restart for, but in this case that wasn’t the issue.

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Avoid VBScript for Web Apps

Earlier this week I spent some time troubleshooting a browser-based application that a client is using. The problem cropped up on a PC with a clean install of Windows XP SP3 after assorted system corruption that wasn’t worth the time to repair.

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When DNS and ping Fail but nslookup Works (fix, Windows)

Spent some time recently with a Windows XP laptop that would see networks fine (although IP address acquisition via DHCP seemed slower than I’d expect), but which was unable to resolve names with DNS. This was affecting IE, Firefox,  ping, basically anything that used the built-in Winsock calls such as gethostbyname(). NSLookup, on the other hand, worked just fine.

The first thing to do when facing any computer problem is to figure out where the problem lies, so it was time for a bit of sleuthing.

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Choosing Printers for the Office

For many small businesses, when it’s time to add or replace a printer in your office it’s easy to just go to an office supply store and buy whatever’s on sale. It’s also almost always a mistake.

It’s worth doing at least a little research when you’re purchasing technology items, particularly for items that you expect to last or that use consumables – specifically printers and fax machines. Because of the use of paper, toner or ink and possibly maintenance supplies, the up-front purchase price of a printer or fax machine is only a very small part of the total cost you’ll pay over several years of ownership. There may also be a surprisingly significant difference in setup costs between different pieces of equipment if you’re paying a third party to set up equipment and get it working for you.

This article leads off a series of occasional articles on purchasing printers for your office with a quick overview of some of the issues that I’ll examine in more detail in future articles.

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