Old Printers Never Die, They Just Munch Away

Elmer using his H-PEA printer with the bottle opener and JP-SOB button
Recently I was talking with my friend Charlie, a fellow technologist, about printer problems.  Printer problems are the greatest challenge facing Americans in the 21st Century.  They will undoubtedly be the deciding factor in the next Presidential election.

Charlie’s harrowing story is typical of this serious problem.  He mentioned how his old H-Pea printer tried to feed a ream of paper in one gulp the other night.  This of course caused a massive paper jam, gears grinding, there was smoke, a blown electrical circuit, a call to the fire department, some fireman chopping out windows in the house, and I think Red, his wife, got mad about something.

Okay, so no big deal, but Charlie really needed to print something.

And there he was, staring at the dreaded H-Pea “Printer Jam” screen of death.

There is no way out of the dreaded screen of death.  This message is deliberately displayed to lull printer users into a false sense of control.  But it leads to nowhere and can possibly harm you health.

For example, just try to do something with it.  Pressing the “Okay” button, which by the way is really counter-intuitive because things are definitely not okay, will just cause the printer to try to eat another ream of paper, often compounding the original printer jam problem.

H-Pea also puts a faux print cancel button (this is French and suspect from the git-go) on all their printers.  The button has a big X on it and is intended to make hapless printer users think that if they push it the print job will be canceled and they can start over.  Hah!!!

Then there’s the get physical method of bracing both feet against the printer (women who have had children are much better at this than us guys) which is called the Printer Birthing Maneuver, yank the ream of paper out, and then quickly press the Faux X button before the greedy little B#$#%RD tries to gulp down another ream of paper.

What actually happens is the printer starts printing page after page of one liners that look like this … “axb …3 lTPb  @ d qqq ..– d c  ‘ f ..- 2.”

Usually, this is not representative of what I’ve entered into my word processor, except for the other night when I’d had forty-eleven margaritas and thought I could write lyrics to a song.  So the Printer Birthing Maneuver is not all that useful really.

Calling the help desk is problematic as well.  At no time will you ever talk to a human (see my article entitled “American CEO’s Deathly Afraid of Human Interaction” which I haven’t written yet).  People have spent days, months, even years responding to computer voice commands taking them endlessly through a virtual labyrinth of options and choices, and I’ve heard that a hapless guy named Arnold Gerstenecker in Peoria was found dead, slumped in front of his printer, cell phone clutched tightly in his cold, stiff hand, as the help desk computer kept saying, “We really value your call, please hold on the line for the next available agent.”

Of course, this may just be urban legend.

But Charlie, being an astute technologist, told me he avoided all these problems and hit on the brilliant workaround of feeding just one sheet of paper at a time to the greedy little printer, thus elevating our collective human spirit in a shining example of man conquers machine – reminiscent of John Henry and the guy who recently beat the computer Watson in Jeopardy.

We named this procedure the One Sheet Feed Maneuver and it is now the state of the art, recommended best practice for clearing an H-Pea printer jam.  Case closed.

Satisfied we had advanced the state of printerology, we got to reminiscing about overall printer design.  We agreed that printer’s in general just have too many buttons and options since they try to copy, fax, staple (this never works), scan and just about everything else you can think of and it’s all just too confusing to be practical.

This dove-tailed nicely with one of my earlier articles where I proposed that printers just have one button called the JP-SOB button.  Whenever you want to print something, you press the JP-SOB button and the printer will Just Print The Son Of A B&#ch!

Of course, if printer manufacturers feel absolutely compelled to add another competitive feature besides printing, why not something low tech and really useful like an attached beer bottle opener on the side of the printer.

Our conversation began to drift a bit at this point so we summarized quickly before we moved on to other important subjects involving barley based beverages and fine cigars.

Conclusion:  1) Avoid the Faux X cancel button.  It seldom works, is French, and very unpatriotic, 2) Do not use the Printer Birthing Maneuver – especially if you’re a guy, because you could hurt yourself and 3) DO USE the One Sheet Feed Maneuver if your printer starts printing page after page of  “axb …3 lTPb  @ d qqq ..– d c  ‘ f ..- 2″,  unless of course you’ve been drinking and writing lyrics to a song and this is really what you wrote.

And finally, attach a beer bottle opener to the side of your printer and use it to enjoy a nice, cold, barley based beverage and forget printing altogether.

Hap-Pea Printing!!!

J. Daniel

3 Responses to “Old Printers Never Die, They Just Munch Away”

  1. Patty says:

    Hey Dan,

    This one was brilliant – very funny!!!
    It’s good to see you still have your technological sense of humor!


  2. Peter Wright says:

    That’s amazing, I only recently purchased an H-Pea, before that I had a succession of Lexsmarts that generally behaved quite well but did sometimes display the same rebellious attitude you describe so accurately.

    All of these were consigned to that great printer resting place in the sky, because relatively minor problems were going to cost more to fix than a new printer (with more buttons).

    Did you have Gestetner machines in this part of the world? Or did you leapfrog that stage of technology, unlike us colonials. They were hand operated printers that needed a stencil and tubes of black ink. The stencil had to be perfectly typed by a typist on a typewriter,

    Interestingly there was no “Faux X” button on the machine. Not sure about the typist though.

  3. J. Daniel says:

    Great comments, Peter. I don’t think we had Gestetner machines but we had Mimeographs – which sound similar. Don’t recall the Faux X button either – we just used to hit it with a hammer – that seemed to work fine (chucke).

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