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ATPM 17.02
February 2011


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by Mark Tennent,

Here We Go Again

Welcome to 2011. I mean, you are welcome to 2011. For me, so far, it has meant expensive things breaking and needing replacement.

This started just before Christmas when the oven cooked its goose as its glass door fell apart. Then the washing machine decided to spit pieces of metal in its final spin before expiring in a final gurgle. Luckily, a new one ordered Christmas Eve arrived Bank Holiday Monday.

These appliances were at least bought at the same time, about five years ago. Both also had had a hard working life. The final insult came when our Canon Pixma 4600 printer packed up after less than two years of light duty. Despite all the efforts of cleaning and tweaking, it just sits blinking and saying it has Error B200—the cost of repair of which is more than the cost of a new printer.

Our Canon has been fed with only the finest OEM inks, bought at highly inflated prices, and we even have a set or two of cartridges in hand. Naturally, these don’t fit any new printers. All of our previous inkjet printers died prematurely with blocked heads, but they had been given a diet of cheap compatible cartridges. For the Canon, we decided to use only the best, shoveling liquid more expensive than fine wine into it. Fat lot of good it did us. Instead of costing a few quid to keep it in compatible inks, it was more like £40 for a set of Canon branded refills.

Now, just as credit cards are feeling stretched, we must decide on a new printer. We’ve been through Epsons, Canons, and Lexmarks, so it looks like an HP, Kodak, or Samsung. None of these really appeal.

Our best printer, dating back to about 1995, is still going strong. It is an old Apple LaserWriter 8500, built in the days when things were made to last at least two years. The trouble nowadays is finding spares for it—especially toner—so we keep it for special occasions. The TCP/IP board seems to have given up the ghost, but it still has AppleTalk, which an ancient G3 iBook can connect to. This does mean that it takes an age to print anything, but then the printed page emerges on A3 stock with glorious PostScript output.

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