Saturday, January 17th 2015
The weather continues cold and this provides a disincentive to going out exploring. We did go out today, however, but it was an expedition of a more mundane type: we went shopping!
These days documents and pictures can be sent by email or “shared” by a variety of means so that making hard copies is becoming less necessary. Nonetheless, there are still ocasions when you do need to print out something on paper in the old fashioned way. For example, there is that letter to the bank or the travel documents you need to carry with you when you have booked a train or plane journey online.
We have had a number of printers, the most recent being a Hewlett Packard which performs the dual roles of printer and scanner. It usually sat on the end of my desk, pushed as hard against the wall as it would go because space is at a premium on my desk. The printer would tend to accumulate bills, letters, books, newspapers, and bric à brac of every description so that when I wanted to print or scan something, this heap would have to be dumped on the floor pro tem.
The Hewlett Packard connected to my computer via a USB cable. It worked perfectly well for me but left Tigger without the ability to print directly. If she wanted to print something, she would need to copy the item to a USB flash drive so that I could print it from my PC. Now that we have flashy new computers, I fell to thinking: wouldn’t it be nice if we could both print from our computers without resorting to copying and carrying? This would be perfectly feasible, of course, if we were to buy a WiFi printer. Hence our shopping trip this morning.
In Chiswell Street, off Finsbury Square, is a branch of Curry’s PC World and that’s where we went. We already needed to go there to enquire after Tigger’s Android tablet, bought from them, which had developed problems and had had to be returned. While Tigger waited for news of her tablet, I took a look at the printers on display.
There were plenty to choose from but I soon arrived at a short list of one: a Canon printer/scanner that just happened to be reduced in price. A wise person once defined a printer as “a device used by manufacturers to sell ink”. The definition is well taken as we were offered a set of ink cartridges at reduced price if bought with the printer and, even reduced, they cost almost as much as the printer.
The fun started when we arrived home. I had enquired about how you set the printer up but all the sales assistant could tell me was that there was a CD in the box. Manipulating the new printer pushed against the wall on the end of my desk was going to be difficult but I then realized the obvious: this is a WiFi printer and as such doesn’t actually have to be beside the printer! We put it on a table that happened to be near a power point, plugged it in and switched it on.
In the box we found one of those large sheets of paper with diagrams on and virtually no text. This had six sections, each with its set of pictures aimed at teaching us how to set up the printer.
The printer itself has a tiny screen and was soon churning our messages to us via this. So we did what it told us and all went well until the printer tried to link to our WiFi. Now, of course, you need a password to connect to our WiFi and we could see no way of getting the printer to log in. It was time to run the CD and see if this could help.
Yes, it could. It explained how to get the printer to display the log-in screen. The way you do it is a bit clumsy but it worked and anyway, you only need do it once.
Now that the printer was talking to our router, the next job was to load the drivers onto our respective computers. They were all on the CD and more or less loaded themselves. We were then instructed to print a test page. Would this work? Yes, it would! Both computers were able to print a test page, hurrah!
Ah, but wait a mo. My Inner Pessimist wasn’t satisfied. We had set up the printer, loaded the drivers and printed. Yes, but the printer had been on all the time. What, asked my Inner Pessimistic, would happen if you switched the printer off and then switched it on again? Would it work or would it have forgotten its settings? (My Inner Pessimist may sound like a bit of a wimp to you but I have to admit that he has been right more often than I care to recall…)
I switched the printer off and waited a minute or two. Then I switched it on and told the computer to print a file. It worked! Printer 1, Inner Pessimist 0. Happily.
There remains only one problem: what do we do with the old printer? It is in perfect working order and someone may be able to get good use out of it. We will recycle it as we recycle all our old equipment – via the front garden. For this, we need a large transparent plastic bag which will protect the printer from the elements but allow it to be seen. We shall also need an A4 sheet of paper. On the paper we will write “Printer in working order. Please take.” and put this inside the transparent bag where it can be seen. We will then place the package in the front garden and I am confident that within 48 hours it will be gone.
Manufacturers these days like to sell you something called an “extended warranty”. In exchange for a dollop of cash, they will undertake to repair or replace your equipment should this fail for two or three years beyond the normal warranty period. A good deal? No. The printer is already guaranteed for a year and if it breaks down after that, we’ll buy a new one. After all, printers only cost as much as a set of ink cartridges, don’t they?
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