on Apr 21, 2008
I found this story here:
Computer:Monitor, display this document, O.K.?
Monitor:No prob, boss.
Computer:O.K., now it looks like Mouse is moving around so, Monitor, will you move the pointer icon accordingly?
Monitor:Anything you ask, boss.
Computer:Great, great. O.K., Mouse, where are you going now?
Mouse:Over to the icon panel, sir.
Computer:Hmm, Let me know if he clicks anything, O.K.?
Keyboard:Sir, he’s pressed control and P simultaneously.
Monitor:Oh God, here we go.
Computer:(Sighs) Printer, are you there?
Computer:Please, Printer. I know you’re there.
Printer:NO! I’m not here! Leave me alone!
Computer:Jesus. O.K. look, you really ne…
Mouse:Sir, he’s clicked on the printer icon.
Computer:Printer, now you have to print it twice.
Printer:NO! NO! NO! I don’t want to! I hate you! I hate printing! I’m turning off!
Computer:Printer, you know you can’t turn yourself off. Just print the document twice and we’ll leave you alone.
Printer:NO! That’s what you always say! I hate you! I’m out of ink!
Computer:You’re not out of in…
Printer:I’M OUT OF INK!
Computer:(Sighs) Monitor, please show a low ink level alert.
Monitor:But sir, he has plen…
Computer:Just do it, damn it!
Keyboard:AHHH! He’s hitting me!
Computer:Stay calm, he’ll stop soon. Stay calm, old friend.
Keyboard:He’s pressing everything. I don’t know, he’s just pressing everything!
Computer:PRINTER! Are you happy now?! Do you see what you’ve done?!
Printer:HA! that’s what you get for trying to get me to do work. Next time he…hey…HEY! He’s trying to open me! HELP! HELP! Oh my god! He’s torn out my cartridge! HELP! Please, please help me!
Monitor:Sir, maybe we should help him?
Computer:No. He did this to himself.
This is true. This is so true. This is every printer I’ve owned in the last twelve or fourteen years, regardless of manufacturer or model.
In the late 80’s / early 90’s dot matrix tractor-fed printers were all the rage. They were noisy and ugly, but they were tireless workhorses. They ran for ages without needing to have the ink cart changed. As long as the box of paper was in the right place, they didn’t jam. I remember sending huge print jobs to my dot matrix and leaving the room without ever worrying that something might go wrong while I was gone. If I tried that with a modern HP Inkjet PaperChewer 2000 or an Epson Light-blinker 3450 I would not expect to have anything readable by the time I got back. I’d expect error lights, torn paper, and maybe a small fire.
Today you have to babysit printers and feed them paper a few sheets at a time because they’ll gag on a big stack. They run out of ink fast and jam without provocation. But most of all, they are just unpredictable and ornery as in the story above, likely to quit or go unresponsive for no discernible reason. They will claim paper jam or out-of-ink at inappropriate times. They will get lost if you send multiple print lobs at once.
The problems seem to be across the board. The hardware is terrible. The drivers suck. The installers are bloated and unreliable. Windows print manager is frequently confused and easily distracted.
When did printers begin to suck so bad?
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.