Canon Pixma owners: this one simple trick makes your printer's feed rollers able to grab paper again!

I have a cheap Canon Pixma MG5750, a Currys PC World purchase when I needed a cheap multifunction printer fast. Was handy at £45 (another set of genuine ink for it costs the same, go figure) but obviously I never expected it to be perfect.

Unfortunately, one of the fundamental requirements of any printer - to be able to take in paper successfully - was a little lacking with this unit. Resarch indicates it's sadly a common issue with this range of Canon printers.

Soon after buying mine, the paper feed (take-up of paper from the tray into the mechanism) started to behave irregularly; soon after that I ended up having to nudge each sheet of paper in to the printer, it was unable to take in paper itself. Not convenient.

I put up with this for a while but an attempt to print some documents evening pushed me into investigating. The fix, as it turns out, is really simple!

Click to read more and see photos of the paper feed roller fix

Quickly install DiG on Windows without a full BIND9 install

Today I needed to use - and install - DiG (Domain Information Groper!) on a Windows 10 box. Of course, Windows is useless when it comes to CLI tools - nslookup is past its prime and not even Windows 10 includes much by way of useful tools for DNS queries. It's shipped as part of the BIND9 DNS software from ISC.

So, let's see about DiG... Good news, everyone! - BIND9 is available for Windows, but I don't want to install the whole thing, ain't nobody got time for that. So, let's see about excerpting just the DiG executable and getting it so you can use it without specifying its full path every time, which will require setting its location in the PATH variable.

There's quite a few guides and tutorials to installing DiG on Windows. The simplest one I found was from Websistent, who recommended downloading their own zip of DiG and its necessary DLL dependencies, dropping those into windows\system32 (urk?) and using as normal.

We can do better than that:

Click to see how simple it is!

Setting up a secure Postfix server in 2019 - what to consider?

Postfix is great, and widely used, but freshly installed it's like a newborn child. Nowadays there's a lot of work required to get it to an acceptable level to face the wild west of the Internet.

NB: This is a living document and will probably change over time as I revise my own methods for managing my servers.

Running an MTA to an 'acceptable' standard now requires lots of additional config and tuning, but it's satisfying once done. Be prepared to learn lots about DNS, TLS, certificate structure, mail filtering (miltering), regular expression and monitoring - crucial once your system is operational.

Once you've had your fill of the RFCs (https://www.fastmail.com/help/technical/standards.html), there's plenty other stuff to learn. http://www.emailarchivestaskforce.org/documents/guide-to-email-standards/ is worth a read, and are you sure you know how to validate an email address? https://haacked.com/archive/2007/08/21/i-knew-how-to-validate-an-email-address-until-i.aspx/

For newcomers, important areas to cover are:

  • understanding quirks of different email clients, some of the odd scenarios with specific email services
  • familiarising oneself with the certificate process
  • how TLS is employed with email
  • Hands-on experience is crucial!
  • Doing dry runs with a dev system is invaluable - you must be able to make and break things without taking down customers' email 🙂

I administer shared Postfix servers for numerous clients. Some are newest releases of Postfix, and some, due to legacy requirements, are older. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but some configuration options aren't always available.

If I was setting up a new Postfix server today, I'd go through these steps:

Continue reading "Setting up a secure Postfix server in 2019 - what to consider?"

Frameserving from Premiere Pro CC 2019 to FFmpeg

This article discusses how to set up frameserving from Adobe Premiere CC 2019 or later for great results with free software.

A while ago while working on batches of video edits, I came to the realisation that frameserving is simply the best, most flexible way to encode in some cases. Time marches on, and so did my software - eventually I came to a new machine, new Premiere Pro and - disaster - no apparent support for frameserving. Just when I needed it...

Cleverer people than me have solved the CC2019 problem - for those of you editing in Premiere it's once again fairly easy to frameserve encode. However, it did take a bit of sleuthing to figure out a few things; this tutorial should help you to avoid the same problems I encountered.

November 2019: Vouk's excellent Voukoder plugin for After Effects and Premiere can now accomplish some of what this article covers, and it has an active developer and user community. Vouk includes the FFmpeg/libav filters to enable things like bwdif deinterlacing. There are still some bugs but it's worth a test - it should integrate nicely into an AME or batch workflow. More complicated workflows may still benefit from frameserving, so it's still worthwhile to do.

July 2020: wangqr, the developer of the dfscPremiere.prm patch, informed me by email that he's not maintaining it any more as it's been merged into the main Debugmode Frameserver repository. Download v3.0 for use with CC2019 and above. Thank you for your hard work, Q!

Spoiler: it's a little bit of work, not very difficult, and the results are great
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