At the End of the Day

Is there anyone out there who has a printer that works, and has done so for more than three sessions in a row? I only ask this because I have never owned such an implement…and I wondered if I was just unlucky. The only term more unconsciously ironic than ‘paperless office’ is ‘wireless’: to get Wifi at home you need more wiggly windey things than Milanese pasta hors d’oeuvres. And whatever you do, don’t get a Wifi printer: you will be buried in desperation wires and spoiled papers within days.

What I can’t grasp is why printers need to shunt out a ‘test’ copy every time. What are they testing – the degree of inefficacy achieved? Out shoots the word ‘test’, followed by six blank pages, sixteen half-printed pages, or no pages. The only tests more pointless than this one are central banker stress tests.

‘No paper in queue’ it lies. There always is paper in the queue. ‘Paper jammed’ it alleges. The paper is never jammed. But when the paper is jammed, you don’t need a notice on the Palace railings…you hear it, and then pull out a piece of ink-stained origami.

Contrary to popular belief, most software will work when presented with properly constructed hardware. Asian-made hardware is the weak link every time: forget what the brand says, it was made in Asia. For a nation like Britain, this is a major opportunity to justify premium by supplying reliability. Anyone heard of a UK pc hardware company getting backing?

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Although this isn’t a particularly nice thing to satirise, I think we need a weekly magazine along the lines of the TV listings/Time Out genre to be a sort of What’s On This Week guide to energy wars, religious slaughter, areas of military tension, new cyber weapons, gender wars, sovereign defaults, Islamist atrocities, American currency wars, market manipulations – indeed the whole gamut of geopolitical human belief-system spinbollocks.

The name has to be right, though. I thought of Fighting Talk, but that sounds too agitprop. I considered Tussles Weekly, and concluded it was a bit car auction and Ebay. Conflicts of Interest I rejected as too bourgeois and bland. And Playing Soldiers leaves out the many wars these days that do not involve grunts.

I think Warpath is the one. It gets the product in the headline, and suggests a way through the disinformation and timelines so central to grasping why the US runs fifteen side-by-side foreign policies at once – or even a layman’s guide to why the Saudis hate the Israelis, but see the Palestinians as untouchable underclass in one oxymoronic sweep of bigotry that passes the time in between outbursts of barbaric mutilation.

Warpath will offer a complete guide to who’s invaded who, who lied when, why aeroplanes disappear, and which psychopaths who deserve to be diabolic church carvings are in, out, and shaking it all about.

It cannot miss.

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You may live in a world of soundbites, but speaking for myself I live in the antithetical world of the tonguebite. The tonguebite is what you have to apply when people say things like “Of course, you can see Schauble’s point”, “I like David Cameron, he’s got the right ideas”, “You’re just a grumpy old man”, “Say what you like about Boris, he speaks his mind”, “Ed Miliband has the makings of a Prime Minister” and “Our future lies ineluctably in Europe”.

When sober, I will give measured responses respectively as follows: “No I can’t, to be honest”, “Would that include HS2?”, “You say the nicest things”, “So did Herr Hitler”, “When does he get the transplant?” and “I sincerely hope not”.

But the scars on my oral tasting equipment are inversely correlated with how much fine claret I might have consumed before others emit such soundbite echoes. And we shall draw a discreet veil over that eventuality.

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Here’s a fact with which to taunt the neolib nutters: name one popular song that’s all about being 100% committed to corporate life.

It’s a fair cop: they insist all we want to do is rush into work every day and just push the pea of product selling up the hill of consumer poverty until we reach the sunny uplands of Friedman. Only – seefingizzlike – there aren’t any songs at all about that, are there?

But the view that people work to live rather than live to work is supported by Friday on my Mind, Saturday Night Out, Summertime Blues, Blue Monday, Here come the Weekend, Nine Til Five, I don’t like Mondays, Takin’ Care of Business, Workin’ in a Coal mine, I Can’t Wait to Get off Work, Welcome to the Working Week, Factory, Big Boss man, and thousands of others – Google them all at this link.

Recent skin-test word reaction research showed a far higher response to the words leisure, hobby, weekend, family, children, neighbourhood and parents tha to any comparable corporate word.

Smiling, debating, taking part, privacy, going to weddings and condolences at funerals are natural. Friedmanism is the dried-up philosophy of a useful academic idiot. The swing to unnatural is a recurrent feature of common life. If only the Labour Party could grasp this simple point: neoliberalist corporatocracy is tosh.

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Man 1: I just bought two pairs of khaki trousers.

Man 2: Why?

Man 1: I need somewhere to put me car keys.

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A man was arrested earlier today on suspicion of stealing 38,700 negligees from a factory in Blackburn.

He was later charged with criminal negligence. But his defence attorney insisted, “The evidence against my client is flimsy”.

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HERE IS THE TRACKING NUMBER FOR YOUR UPS PARCEL! exclaimed the website. IT’S ALL PART OF OUR WORLD-CLASS CUSTOMER SERVICE! the foghorn continued.

So like a dutiful little consumer, I followed the instructions and clicked. It showed various places where the parcel had been. CONTINUE TO GET YOUR DELIVERY DATE! I was gently asked. So I did. And there was a questionnaire asking me 15 personal questions. So I decided I could do without knowing the delivery date, but that I was a tad concerned the package was now in Charbon Blanc about 250 kilometres to the north of here: as it was coming from SE Europe, this seemed odd.

I sent then an email and a ticket came back saying ‘wrongly addressed’. When Snafu happens, blame the customer. I sent them the new address.

The next day I got GREAT NEWS! YOUR PACKAGE IS NOW CORRECTLY ADDRESSED AND WILL BE DELIVERED 1ST APRIL AM! As that was 4 days hence, it seemed to me slow for a package heading my way under the ludicrously expensive ‘Extremely Urgent’ banner, but Can’t be Arsed kicked in and I forgot about it. I went out. I did some shopping.

When I got back, the phone rang. It was the Man from UPS and he say yes, here I am where are you from here? I asked him if he was a Time traveller, which evoked silence, and then I gave him directions. He turned up, he peeped on his horn. I went to the front door. He peeped on his horn from the back of the house. I went to the back door. He knocked on the front door. I went round the house to the front door, he went round the other side to the back door. I signed for the package. I looked at the address written on the package by my friend. It was correct in every detail.

It seems that to get a delivery date from UPS, they need to know your inside leg-measurement and whether your auntie’s cat was now or ever had been a member of the Comnist Pardy. Which isn’t service, it’s data collection…but it’s not worth being a highly valued customer anyway, because the date they give you will be wrong.

I worry a lot about surveillance, but I’m equally often relieved to see how hopelessly incompetent the snoopers are about almost everything. Another piece of strong evidence in favour of this view is that – despite GCHQ spending £14bn each and every years to watch over some 44 million adults, they don’t have a clue where the jihadists, muggers, paedophiles and illegal immigrants are. So the chances are that if you like beheading children and don’t have a valid entry permit for the UK, you’ve little or nothing to worry about.

The South American bloke the Met shot dead (with an assist from Andy ‘Jailbird’ Coulson) in the Tube all those years ago had been the subject of intensive, skilled and electronically aided surveillance. There was just one problem: they’d ID’d the wrong man in the first place. To be fully certain that he was extinct and not blessed with the constitution of Rasputin, they shot him 34 times in the head at close range. Every civilian witness said he offered no resistance at all.

It is always vital to ensure that your prey is incapable of contradicting your story.

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And finally, I wonder how many of you have noticed that, when you come to open your laptop the right way up, the brand logo is always upside-down. Could this be because – after three decades of trying to persuade the management that Geek Aspergers sufferers are not the best people to put in charge of design – this is the marketing department’s futile attempt to highlight dysfunctionality?

It would be nice to think so. Then at least we might get some user manuals based on a hierarchy of importance – as opposed to a random stream of impenetrable coincidence.

20 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. I have a brother HL 2040, prior to that an H 2030. Neither has ever broken down. They are cheap to buy and cheap to run. When the drum eventually wears out, it is cheaper to buy a new printer than a new drum. I know its wrong, but I do. However that is at least 2-3 years down the line.

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  2. 1. Brand logo: it’s upside down because what matters is not you, who’ve bought the wretched product, but the next victim.
    2. Alternative newspaper: perhaps we could have one that consistently followed various parts of the world in every issue, instead of swivelling its single eye about like a demented Dalek/

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  3. For some strange reason, printing has always been a source of horror and amazement in my line of work (which is the system that dare not speak its name). Horrible software distributed only in the form of source code, and badly broken source code at that? No problem, once the sysadmin remembers about “make clean” and is fairly handy with the old Google. Vile, multiply-dependent French-made code that is supposed to tell you what it requires, but which cunningly doesn’t do so and lets the customer blame the poor old techie for it? No problem once our old friend strace is on the job.

    But printing, oh no that’s a quite different problem altogether.

    All I can say is that HP printers are just slightly better than the rest, and their inkjet systems have the inkjet head built into the cartridge, plus it is possible (with care and much mess) to refill the cartridges yourself. The protocol they use is as old as the hills, and has been tolerably well reverse-engineered, so practicioners of the Dark Arts such as I can use them.

    Jokingly, may I suggest a change of hardware may be in order?
    http://www.strangehorizons.com/2004/20040405/badger.shtml

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  4. My HP printer works like a charm. I live in the USA & bought it through Amazon at a huge discount from a USA wholesale outlet, but it’s a model that HP itself only sells in Mexico. Not being a techie, I’ve had to call HP several times to learn how to use different functions — their support has been superb: largely supplied by sweet-sounding young ladies in India — the trick is to register with HP as a business owner, since that brings access to a hotline

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  5. I had a small Canon black inkjet printer that also served as a scanner. A great little workhorse that lasted for years. Then I decided to treat myself to a colour printer and chose a large Epsom that was great whilst it lasted but conked out after about a year. I was gutted and have not bought one since. If I need a printout, I copy my work onto a USB stick and go to the library just down the road – 10p a sheet or walk a bit further into town to the YMCA and get copies at 5p per sheet.

    J, I think you and technology do not mix well. ;-}

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  6. I would concur, the cheap Brother mono laser printers are simple, reliable and pretty much bombproof, in my previous incarnation as IT manager we used to run dozens of the buggers, they were thrashed mercilessly but always came through. Consumables are cheap and you can use a USB lead and eliminate the need for horrid Wifi.

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  7. They’re taking the piss is why and they’ll go on taking it until the pips squeak. I bought a new (BT) phone the other day but the lead wasn’t long enough to reach the junction box, so I went into my local hardware shop this afternoon and bought a (BT) extension cable, after close scrutiny of the connectors and a gentle interrogation of the staff as to its suitability. On getting down to the job, the bit which goes into the phone, identical in shape and form to the naked eye to the bit which comes out, is in fact slightly larger. So it doesn’t fit. Reading the instruction leaflet it says …’only use the telephone line cord supplied otherwise your telephone may not work’. Nifty huh! There were no numbers on either the phone or the extension packaging, nor in the instructions, to indicate that these two components are incompatible. So what to do. Sue them over something which cost the same as a sandwich? Hardly.

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  8. Some years ago someone in the U.S. started a lawsuit against HP after finding that the inkjet cartridges refused to work after a certain time,even though they contained sufficient ink.I had this experience with an HP psc 2110 a few years back.There were workarounds that I found on thr net,such as setting back the date on the computer,& other more techie type things involving masking some of the cartridges contact points,etc,but eventually I just junked the thing.
    I recently read that now,the very software programme that you have to install to run the printer is set to stop working after 3 years from date of installation,thus forcing you to buy a new printer.Neat,eh?.

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  9. John you have to accept that for some people computers; hardware & software, work pretty much every time. For other people they give endless trouble. That’s just how it is. Mostly it comes down to install it they way a robot would. If you start to think and have an imagination you will deviate ever so slightly and then you are doomed and never know why

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  10. I have an HP printer.
    HP stands – obviously – for “Hopeless with Paper”
    Brilliant printer – problem is if it can’t pick up paper its brilliance is completely wasted.
    Happlessly Pathetic
    Horrible at Printing
    Horrendously Pitiful

    …and PS
    whenever I open my laptop (which rarely if ever goes wrong!) the apple is always the right way up.

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  11. I have bought dozens of printers over the years, mostly HP. We used them all pretty heavily, but looking back, a number of them just decided one day not to work anymore. Naive and trusting, and even though I have always thought HP -once they decided acquisition and growth was the key to their future- to be dodgy bunch of cowboys, I didn’t suspect them of putting a time-lock on their printers.
    The inkjet ones with 7mm of ink I remember, they almost gave gave them away cos they stung you so much for ink.
    Maybe the tonne of test-pages is the HP way to keep you spending money on them.

    They lost my business a few years ago now, and they won’t get it back.

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  12. You are ‘just unlucky’ – or something . .

    Stick to laser printers, a simpler technology means less to go wrong. I also have found the Brother printers reliable and very good value; this is their current entry level printer: http://www.brother.co.uk/printers/mono-laser-printers/hl1110 £66 from Brother.

    I currently use a [now discontinued] Kyocera FS1320D because it uses a much larger toner cartridge which I can get cheaply giving me a very low unit price on runs of 500+ which I need. The current model is: http://www.printerbase.co.uk/acatalog/kyocera-ecosys-p2135-printer.php

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  13. Dear Sir, of course the logo on the laptop is upside down when you look at it from the front. It is not for your benefit but to advertise to the world the equipment you are using hence the fruit based laptops have a logo that is lit up.

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