Saturday, July 16, 2011

Internet Fax

Despite the explosive shift to digital communications, there can still sometimes be a need for old-style analog facsimile (fax), but thanks to the Internet it's no longer necessary to have a fax machine and fax phone line.
The principal drawback to Internet fax can be cost, in that many Internet fax services are monthly subscription plans, but if your needs are modest, here's how to do fax over the Internet on the cheap (best deals as of this writing):
  • Incoming: Free service from eFax. You'll be given an incoming fax number, and your incoming faxes will be sent to you by email. To view (or print) faxes received by email, you'll need to download and install eFax Messenger software.
  • Outgoing: Pay As You Go service from Fax1. Currently $0.12 per delivered page to the USA. (International rates here) $1 free trial credit to get started; buy more credit as needed. Download and install FaxBlaster software to print to fax from any software on your computer, or use any of several other faxing options. (Use the incoming eFax number when setting up your outgoing Fax1 account.)
    UPDATE: Fax1 no longer works properly and is not being supported.
    Instead, use a free personal account at FilesAnywhere to send up to 10 faxes per month. Fully professional quality and service, highly recommended!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Scratched CD/DVD/Blu-ray Discs

When you have trouble playing or reading an optical disc, CD, DVD, or BD (Blu-ray Disc), the first thing to do is clean the disc. There's no need for fancy cleaners – just hand wash the disc with mild dish soap (nothing abrasive), rinse thoroughly, and dry with soft cloth (not paper towel, which can scratch).

If that doesn't do the trick, then the disc may be scratched, which interferes with the optical laser pickup. Expensive kits are available to fix scratches in optical discs, but what can do the job more cheaply in many cases is simple furniture polish (e.g., Pledge™). Spray on generously; polish thoroughly with soft absorbent cloth; and make sure it's completely dry before trying to play or read it.

If that doesn't work, then commercial polishing using abrasives, like the TAP Plastics Novus system, may be needed.