On a Workaround for my Brother HL-2170W Printing Problem

hacks, wtf?

Hello again internets.

I've been working a bit in my free time on my family's ancestry using ancestry.com. One problem, as you can see in that last link, is that visualizing one's family tree can bee a challenge in hardcopy. And I really enjoy my Brother HL-2170W, which is a decent black-and-white laser printer that you can use over your wireless network (and the wireless stuff just works!). This interest in printing out my family tree has exacerbated a printing problem I've been living with. (and I've solved it, sort of... read on)

The problem was this: whenever I tried printing a PDF with an image in it from any Adobe product (Reader, Acrobat Pro, etc.) to my HL-2170W, the print job would fail and the error reported was:

Opening raster file failed!

Now, if you google that phrase you get a bunch of people who all seem to recommend some version of reinstalling the printer drivers (btw, I'm on Mac OS 10.5.6). I tried each of those options -- downloading from Brother website, downloading the 1.1 driver update from Apple, reinstalling the Brother printer drivers from the Leopard Install DVD -- and jack shit worked.

You might say, "Can't you print with a non-Adobe product?" and I would say, "Sure." And that's what I've been doing for the past few weeks. In fact, I'm now a Preview.app convert as it does most of what Adobe Reader does and does it in a way that I don't miss Reader (well, I do open PDFs in it to check document information and such).

However, there are some cool printing things that only tools like Adobe Acrobat Pro can do. Case in point: print tiling. "WTF?" you say? Well, Acrobat Pro has a print option that lets you "tile" a large document when you print so that you can assemble individual sheets into one large poster. Since Adobe products don't allow you to "save to PDF" from the print dialog, I can't use this feature on my HL-2170W. As danah says, "Le sigh".

9 Generations of Joe So, how did I do this? (image at right)

Well, I remembered that when I installed it I told the installer not to set up a virtual PDF Printer, because macs can easily do PDFs. (right?) Why would I need another redundant way to print to a PDF? Well, because Adobe products can definitely print to a virtual PDF printer (actually Adobe Distiller) but they can't use the regular Mac "PDF" -> "Save as PDF..." print option.

How might one set up the Adobe PDF Printer? Open Acrobat Pro and navigate to the "Help" -> "Repair Acrobat Installation". One of the options is "Adobe PDF Printer" which can create the necessary "virtual" printer that will save to PDF when to print to it. This way, I can use Apple's "PDF" -> "Save as Postscript" print option to save anything to PS, resize/mess with the PS in something like Illustrator, save the PS as PDF and then open in Acrobat Pro to print a tiled version.

Hall out.

Verbose Waffle Recipe

recipe, food

Aunt Catherine's Waffles As I said a while back, I'd heard that my Aunt Catherine's Waffle Recipe wasn't working out for some people.

I had made the recipe a few times before, so I hadn't a clue as to what the potential problem was. Yesterday, I made the recipe again and had very good results. In that spirit, I've written up a more verbose version of the recipe, trying to give a few clues about the more tacit elements of the recipe.

A verbose version of my aunt Catherine's waffle recipe...


(makes 6 large waffles)

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 c. milk
  • 4-6 tbsp. oil or melted butter, margerine


  1. Add dry ingredients to a medium bowl, whisk to combine thoroughly with a wire whisk. Pour the dry ingredients into a sifter on wax paper and then sift dry ingredients onto the wax paper.
  2. Get a large bowl and your mixer ready. Separate the eggs by cracking the whites carefully in the mixer bowl and placing the two yolks at the bottom of the large bowl. In the large bowl, beat egg yolks until well beaten, add milk & oil. Whisk well.
  3. Turn on mixer with whisk attachment at a few stops less than high speed.
  4. Grab the edges of the wax paper and pour dry stuff into wet stuff, mix (do not overmix).
  5. When egg whites are stiff, gently fold into batter. You can tell when egg whites are stiff by stopping the mixer and seeing if the peaks the mix holds when you pull the whisk out are stiff (stand straight up without any droop). This is key. When you go to fold this into the batter, it will not want to combine with the batter. That's ok. Just fold gently for a minute or two until it combines a bit.
  6. Drop these with a measuring cup onto a hot waffle iron that sizzles when you dribble water on it. You'll want to drop enough batter so that it reaches the edges before you close it and then let the top iron gently fall on the bottom. It will take about 3-4 minutes for the waffles to cook. They should be golden and springy with no batter uncooked in the middle.

Election Auditing Bibliography

elections, friends, research

I've just finished an update to my Election Audit Bibliography.

Find a PDF and BibTeX here:


Let me know if you see any changes I need to make.

A simple iPhone question...

hacks, wtf?, secrecy

Like anyone who cares about security, I've set a passcode lock on my iPhone. However, it's a severe pain in the ass to have to type it in all the time (say, when I'm on a plane reading and want to regularly consult they dictionary (Wordbook)). So, I've set a few-minute delay on the passcode lock such that it doesn't activate immediately.

Here's a use-case and a question: In the above airplane example, what if I need to get up to use the bathroom and want to leave my phone at my seat/in my bag? I'd like in this case, instead of the passcode lock delay, to be able to tell the phone to turn on the passcode lock immediately. How do I do this?

This seems so simple but I can't find a way and it might just not be possible outside of simply changing the lock delay to immediate in Settings (which is another pain in the ass to fiddle with just to get up to use the bathroom... I'd just take my phone with me in this case). And, yes, I do realize that a passcode lock probably want thwart a determined adversary that gets my phone for a few minutes, but still.

RIP Zachary Michael Cruz


A 5-year old was hit by a truck today in Berkeley and killed ("Kindergartner Killed in Tragic Accident").

I was involved in a similar accident in Berkeley last year and emerged miraculously with only a few scratches. I was and am very thankful. After that accident, I realized that our existence is all a sea of probabilities; and that being "safe" requires one to try their best to reduce certain probabilities. In the end, though, you can never reduce them to zero, even staying inside your house all day.

Frank Cruz, the child's father, is a PhD student at Berkeley and I can only imagine what his family must be going through. My thoughts are with them.

If you have the means and are the donating type, you can help them defray the costs of the funeral:


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