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Printers. They exemplify the innate malice of inanimate objects.


Your printer waits for you to be late for a session of your writing group, when you just have to print off six copies of your new chapter and then rush off to catch the bus, at which point it announces that the magenta cartridge has run out. Why does that matter? You’re printing in black and white! Can’t the magenta wait till you’re back this evening and actually want to print off something with colour in it? No, you must change it now.

Or you run out of paper and you forgot to buy some more the last time you were passing Rymans.

Or you’re being good and conservationist, and want to print something on the other side of a used piece of paper, but you forget just how to put that paper in and find you’ve printed your new text all over the used side.

Or, the machine sits there talking to itself, over and over again, muttering but NOT PRINTING. You daren’t turn it off and on again, for what terrible revenge might it then wreak?

Or, you press ‘Print’, but nothing happens. You click on the status bar and it tells you that you have one document waiting to be printed. Yes, indeed you do! There’s nothing else waiting so why doesn’t it get on with it?

When you’re really up against the deadline, it can play the jammed paper stunt. How to retrieve that crumpled piece of paper, without tearing it and leaving behind a scrap of paper that will continue to jam up the works?

No, it just sits there and waits …

I’ve not turned on my printer while writing this. I just hope its pal my PC doesn’t tell on me when I wake it up.

[These thoughts were prompted by today’s broadcast of ‘The Museum of Curiosity’ on Radio 4, when the etymologist Mark Forsyth’s donation to the Museum was a printer that doesn’t work. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b088f2vz, 19 minutes in ]


Help!  Since writing the above, I’ve turned on my printer, only to read a message telling me not to use it because it is ‘sending usage information’.  To whom? Did my PC grass on me after all?  Is ‘sending usage information’ a euphemism and what it’s really doing is summoning help or plotting retribution?  What other machines are in this fearful network?