Patrick Marshall answers your personal technology questions each week.
Q: I use Google Chrome as my browser. It has trouble playing videos such as those on YouTube and Vimeo. Sometimes the video will play just fine. Sometimes in place of the video I get a black space, but I can hear the audio. Sometimes I get a black space, I can hear the audio but there’s a message in the black space that says my “browser does not support this video format.” Do you have any suggestions?
— Nick Vlahovich
A: When the browser tells you it doesn’t support that video format, you can figure that it really doesn’t support that format. But usually there’s a way to get that format supported. It may involve downloading a plugin or making a change in the browser’s configuration. To know exactly what to do you have to identify the format of the video in question, then search the internet for “Chrome XXX support,” with the video format being inserted where the Xs are.
But first, let’s make sure you’re running the latest version of Chrome. If you’re using an old version of Chrome it wouldn’t shock me if updating it solves your problem.
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If the video problem crops up sporadically — if the video can be played one day but the same video can’t be played on another day — there are two possible explanations. First, you may have an application running at times that conflicts with Chrome. Second, you may have bandwidth issues. Playing video requires a relatively fast connection to the internet. Next time you have the problem, go to www.speedtest.net and run the applet you’ll find there to see what bandwidth you’re getting.
Q: I see Canon has a new printer that loads ink from a BOTTLE into the ink well! No more expensive cartridges! Good? Not so good? Sounds great to me! Any thoughts?
—M. Braarud, Kirkland
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A: OK, I’ll start by saying that I haven’t actually tried one of Canon’s new line of “MegaTank” printers, so I recommend that you check reviews before plunking down money.
That said, I’m really glad to see companies starting to offer more economical and environmentally friendly ways for us to print. I can’t say how many empty ink cartridges I’ve hauled into an Office Depot for recycling. (And I’m sure that many people simply throw them in the trash, not knowing they can be recycled.) And it’s also aggravating that the low-end printers don’t actually monitor how much ink is left in the cartridges. They “guess” by the number of prints you’ve made. Which means you could be disposing of perfectly good ink.
What’s more, the cost of ink from the original equipment manufacturers is high! I’ll use the inks from Epson when I’m printing on archival paper on my prosumer Surecolor P800. But when I’m using a $200 printer to print documents I’ll order third-party cartridges. And yet, I still have to suffer through warnings from the manufacturer that the cartridge I just loaded is not “genuine.”
But I digress. I like the idea of letting us refill the printer’s tanks from bottles. At the same time, from the reviews I’ve seen, the savings in ink costs — at least when inks are purchased from the original equipment manufacturer — are real but not huge. So unless you’re needing to print archival quality prints you may want to keep your eye out for third-party suppliers.