Thursday, May 07, 2009

Monday Rant: Printers Redux

I’ve ranted about craptastic printer technology before, nearly 3 years ago. The situation has not improved. In fact, printer technology appears to have regressed in the last few years.

I don’t own a printer, for multiple reasons. Besides all of my experiences with utterly useless printers and their horrid idiosyncrasies, a personal printer for me is unlikely because:
a) they’re fairly expensive, if you want something that will actually work 1% of the time or more;
b) ink or toner is often close to as expensive as the hardware;
c) ink and toner do not last long, and must be replaced regardless of use after some months;
d) I have no space to put one, anyways.

So, on those rare occasions when I actually need to move something from electrons and magnets to blobs of pigment and cellulose, I use somebody else’s printer. Currently I have (limited) access to 3 printers: my boss’ (in his office), my co-worker’s (in his office), and the big printer in the University of Saskatchewan Science Library. Each has its advantages (few) and disadvantages (abundant).

My boss is currently on sabbatical, and has loaned me his office for a little while. Why I need to borrow an office is the subject of another rant. In his office is a Hewlett-Packard Laserjet, which does not work. It used to work; up until a few days ago I was able to connect my work computer to it via USB and it would spew forth papers. Yesterday, for no apparent reason, it stopped working. With much frustration, it is possible to get the printer to print a single page from a given document, but not without much swearing and carrying-on. I have no idea why this should be so, but repeated reinstallation of drivers and runs through troubleshooting algorithms has not improved the situation.

My co-worker’s printer has worked well for me in the past, but suffers from the distinct disadvantage of being located in his office, which he is never also in. Because he’s on another continent, and will be away for several more months. Nobody else shares his office at the moment, so I can’t even bug somebody else and get in there to print. Besides, it’s rather awkward to unlock my computer, carry it to his office, and sit there cramped in the corner with my computer on my lap and a cable running out of it, and a person in the department admonishes me for being in an office.

Finally, the very nice, very expensive printer in the Science Library has always worked well for me, with one exception. The major problem there is twofold: the Science Library is pretty far away, 5 floors down and 2 buildings over, and I’m charged 10 cents per page. For how much I print, this is an entirely reasonable price, but it still rankles when I’m paying out of pocket for a form that somebody else will have to sign anyways. The one exception to the Science Library’s printer’s usefulness was when I had to print a legal size (8.5 x 14 inches) form from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. A form based on a large, complex, fillable PDF. Fillable PDFs can’t have their fillable parts saved, so in a long, stupid process I had to assemble all my answers in a Word document, carry that down to the library on a memory stick, sweet-talk the librarian into letting me fill the form on her computer behind the desk, and load the handful of legal-size sheets into her printer behind the desk. This whole process took about 4 hours spread over 3 days, between figuring out what was required and assembling the required materials. Ungh.

So, yeah, any time I need to print something, even a single page, there’s a strong possibility my day has just been ruined. Yesterday afternoon: sucked. This afternoon: sucked. Both days near-ruined by useless goddammed printers.

Here's a picture of a cat attacking a printer, which I found through Google and I like because of those sharp claws raking the delicate insides of an evil, evil machine.


Ruth said...

Hi Martin, my cat Paisley LOOOOOVES my printer. Although she doesn't attack it she does come running when I plug it in and she walks all over it trying to figure out what all the noise is about. She's fascinated when the pages come out.

TheBrummell said...

Ha, that's pretty funny, Ruth. Does your other cat just not care about your printer?

Unknown said...

What The Duck