I don’t know about most IT-guys, but I at least have a profound hate for printers. I just hate them with the very core of my being. And the weird thing is that I’m not sure why I hate them so much. I think it is because that awful Epson “Photo” inkjet that I had (or rather “still have somewhere”) some 10 years ago. I can still remember the woes of getting that evil thing to work with Windows 98 through USB. The problem was that the idiotic thing installed itself on one port, and if you then happened to plug it into another port it would plain and simply not work. And the really annoying thing was that there was no way to check with port it was installed on (as if you then could identify it among the 7 other USB ports at the back of the computer), and what port you had plugged it into at the moment. And even blindly switching between all the ports wouldn’t work either, so if you happened to unplug it and then plug it in wrong, you were stuck with reinstalling the printer, which sometimes didn’t work either. All this nonsense resulted to me switching it over to LPT, which was oh so slow but oh so reliable as well (as there’s only one bloody LPT port on most computers).

I’m not to this day sure if that was due to flaky USB support in Windows 98SE, or due to a bad USB implementation on the Epson printer, as the same computer (a 700MHz Dell) still serves as the printer server in my home network, but the printer is nowadays a Canon Color Laser (very very very good, and ooh so cheap), and the OS is Windows 2000 Pro.

Another reason for why I hate printers and all the problems that come with them might come from my junior highschool years. Back there they had (and still have) an ancient HP laser printer, B&W and very slow. Back then the printer wasn’t really the problem, it was more the extremely flaky printer server box they used to connect it to the network that was the problem. I can’t remember the exact brand of the thing, but it was something like “InkServer” or something. Anyhow, that thing almost never worked properly, and it was amazingly difficult to troubleshoot as the printer only gave numerical error messages (and noone knew where the manual was) and the network box had all sorts of problems of it’s own which you couldn’t get out of it as there wasn’t really any way to access it. In hindsight I probably think you could have telnetted into it and adjusted it’s settings, but I wasn’t as skilled back then to think of that… Luckily that damn box is gone and the printer is merrily connected to the teachers computer, which is a good thing as otherwise they would be calling me every time that awful thing throws a whoopie over something.

Now then, why am I telling you all this?

It’s the introduction to why I wasn’t very happy yesterday morning, and why I was quite ambivalent a short while after.

I was called out to fix a printer that for some odd reason wasn’t working. I didn’t even try to troubleshoot it over the phone as this was one of those old B&W HP lasers with just an yellow error LED and a green OK LED. This wouldn’t make my on-site job much easier either as the yellow LED blinks just the same no matter what’s wrong. This, coupled with my physical hatred for printer troubleshooting, was the reason for why I wasn’t a happy camper when I left the office.

When I got there I first checked the printer’s job stack (full of course), cleared it and then I went to work. After a quick examination I yanked the cover to get to the plate and toner cartridge, and wouldn’t you know it, there was a thick piece of paper (must have been over 150 g/m^2) wedged inbetween the rollers.

When will people learn that you can’t use an old bottom-of-the-line cheapo laser to print on bloody cardboard? Aarg!

Anyhow, as I exited towards my car after a job well done, I felt very ambivalent. First I was annoyed over driving approx. 8 km for such a simple task, but then again I was also extremely grateful for the fact that the error was such a minor one as I have very bad experiences with almost un-fixable printers.

Categories: Tech

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