NEW YORK (AP) -- Anyone who buys an inkjet printer soon discovers why it was so cheap: it's the ink that's expensive. There are several ways of dealing with it, from third-party cartridges (only slightly cheaper) to do-it-yourself refills (very cheap, but messy).
Inksaver, from Strydent Software Inc., offers another way. It's a software program that allows the user to set the amount of ink used in printing.
I tried it on a Hewlett-Packard 990cse with good results after a minor installation problem.
It worked best for printing text, graphics and Web pages on plain paper. At Inksaver's 25-percent ink-reduction setting, text still looks sharp and presentable while colors lose a little saturation and pictures become slightly more grainy.
At the 50 percent setting, text is still OK -- probably fine for a school paper, but not a resume. At 75 percent reduction, text looks washed out and colors are very pale, but still better than "draft" mode on most printers.
Inksaver doesn't help much if you like ink-guzzling glossy photos. But for most users, a $34.99 investment in Inksaver can make sense.
The wall-shaking Soundbug
The sales pitch of the Soundbug is pretty appealing: a $49.95 gadget with a suction cup and a powerful magnet turns any flat, smooth surface into a loudspeaker.
Powered by three AAA batteries, the bug connects to CD players, computers and MP3 players by a cord with a standard headphone plug. The suction cup then attaches to a window, wall or door. Different surfaces project different qualities of sound.
However, this bug is hardly worth catching, even with its high-tech pedigree. According to distributor Wave Industries Ltd., the magnet uses a material called Terfenol-D, originally developed by the U.S. military for use in underwater sonars. That's also how the Soundbug sounds like: a loudspeaker under water.
No matter the surface, music sounded tinny and shaky, volume was weak, and bass frequencies were almost inaudible.
Small, battery-powered conventional speakers may be less gee-whiz, but they sound better.
EBay for dummies
Unsure what to do now that the high bidder for your Luke Skywalker pewter statuette has backed out? The third edition of "EBay for Dummies," can be a help in this increasingly complex online marketplace.
While most of the book is handholding in eBay basics, it has tips to benefit even veterans.
For instance, the book gives tips on offering your Star Wars figurine to the second highest bidder if the winning bidder backs out, while maintaining the eBay guarantee.
And did you know that there is a way to have unwarranted negative feedback removed by having a live mediator involved? It costs $15, a fair price to wipe away a stain on your reputation. But getting the other party to show up for the online session may be difficult.
Surprisingly, the book recommends the annoying and inefficient practice of "sniping" -- bidding in the last seconds of what are usually weeklong auctions. More sensible buyers decide what they want to pay for an item from the beginning and then leave the auction alone till it ends. "Sniping" takes more time, is riskier (your bid might get delayed on the Internet) and tempts bidders to pay more than they want.
"EBay for Dummies," is written by Martha Collier, Roland Woerner and Stephanie Becker.
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