Russell's Blog

New. Improved. Stays crunchy in milk.

Why is printing terrible?

Posted by Russell on November 26, 2009 at 3:53 p.m.
Mimi and I spent a good chunk of yesterday trying to print a three page PDF document. First, her dad's year-old HP OfficeJet 6300 stripped a gear in its paper feeder with no paper in the loading tray. It now seems to be beyond repair. So, we went over to her cousin's house, and a her HP all-in-one choked on a strangely formatted paper size directive. The error codes suggest that the printer's firmware got corrupted, but we couldn't get any more detail on account of Vista's printer stack simultaneously shitting itself, and remaining resolutely shat even after the usual Windows hokey-pokey of uninstalling/reinstalling, rebooting and banging the table and swearing.

We emailed the damn thing to her sister at her office, and she spent an hour futzing around with it before getting it to live uncomfortably on an 8.5"x11" sheet of paper, only to discover that someone had swiped the fuser wire from the big office laser printer. Six hours after we started, the three pages finally emerged from an old printer Lan found somewhere in a closet.

This seems to be the normal experience when you want to print an important document. Why is it still so awful? Why do people not riot in the streets and burn HP executives alive on pyres of new-but-broken plastic-crap printers? Why do people continue to allow PostScript to live?

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