Friday, January 10, 2014

Blasted Canon

                I think everyone can agree that we owe Gutenberg a big baked apple pie for the way he changed world. That movable type printing press of his shaped the modern world more than anything since the advent of language.  So thank god for the Gutmeister because without being able to easily share ideas, technology like electricity, telephones, computers, and internet may have never emerged.

                Something went wrong with printing between 1450 and now though. With the amazing communication devices we have at our finger tips, we should be able to pay homage to the great press that first put ink to paper by printing documents at home, holding our words in our hands and cheering “Guttenberg, you beautiful genius, look at what you helped me create.” Desktop printers seem to be more of an exercise in patience than a celebration of language though.

                 In fairness, home printing is on the least dazzling end of the print technology spectrum. My awe at the way scientists can print living tissue using sugar and 3-d printers is boosted by the fact that I can’t get my copier/scanner/fax thing to print a nine page document in under an hour. It bothers me not just that my printer is slow, but it’s flagrantly slow.

                Yesterday when I tried to scan a contract that I urgently needed to email, the scanner was all : “please wait a while”. WTF? Seriously, scanner YOU are going to tell ME to wait A WHILE? Really?

                The scanner didn’t respond or say anything else for a few minutes, so I started over. I got the same vague message. No progress bar… not even a never ending twirling circle to tell me it’s working on it… Nope, just “please wait a while”. There was no guarantee that the scanner would come through on this job at any point EVER… just… “wait”. That’s all I could do.

                Eventually it scanned my document, but this was only one of many disappointing exchanges I have had with my desktop printer. In the few months that I've owned it, I've probably wasted an entire tree worth of paper on pages that half printed before my printer gave up. I had to go to my writing workshop empty handed a couple weeks ago because allowing 90 minutes to print seven copies of my story was apparently not enough time and it randomly starts printing jobs that I've canceled and given up on hours after I told it not to.

                 I feel like Gutenberg would be disappointed to know that he pioneered the way for sass mouthed  little machines that work at their leisure if at all when we ask them to help us share our lovely words with one another. However, until I get another job where I have access to a digital printer again, I guess I’m just going to have to put up with getting orders fired at me by a canon… and sadly not even a scary canon that could blow a hole in me.

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