Ross Perot once likened the political process to making sausage, sucinctly surmising that “it ain’t pretty”. Nowadays, politics, like most any other human interaction has undergone a vast transformation during the rapidly changing digital age, allowing for swifter exchange of ideas and more immediate, dynamic displays of word, image, color and sound.
However, I find one single aspect in the daily life of a humble ‘Netizen of the “social networks” to be quite comparable to “making sausage”: the purchase, installation, successful configuration and periodic maintenance of a basic all-in-one home office printer! Whereas managing a 50,000 title music and video library via iTunes can come together without major incident, likewise, photo-editing the red eye from Aunt Bessie’s portrait from the Labor Day picnic is usually a snap for the fundamentally tech literate (not to mention slicing away years of age and a few extra pounds if you are really handy with a digital cam, ambient lighting and Photo Elements software).
But the occasional need to terminate the life of a tree to procure self printable concert tickets, or design custom greeting cards for loved ones, or to actually be compelled to print out and snail mail a rebate form or discount coupon eventually forces me to confront the chink in the armor of my home office gadget arsenal. Near the end of the Industrial Age everything rolled along smoothly as Apple made their own computers to go with their machines and my Paperport SCSI connected sheet-fed scanner worked out fine.
In 2003 an Epson all-in-one refused to make nice at all to my brand new shiny 17″ Powerbook, when the oh-so mid 1990s style beige PowerPC died. Perhaps it was the Airport network that came between them.
A new MacBook Pro purchased a year ago and several OS updates later have brought about the demise of the HP (printer only) that I had made-do with for the last several years. As the techies at the Apple Store used to say in celebration of their Bonjour goof-proof configuration technology, “It just works!”… Well the HP never really did. Up until my purchase of a Time Capsule upgrade for my Airport network I inexplicably could never print from the HP while web surfing simultaneously. And lack of an included scanner forced me to rely on machines at my workplace, under the watchful eyes of tech admins and co-workers who seemed jealous of my extra minutes spent during my “power lunch” (OK maybe a little public school employee paranoia there). I once even invested in a pricy Docupen handheld scanner. Very 007. What was I thinking?
Calls to tech support re the HP had me feeling like a tennis ball with Apple employees saying the lack of proper printer drivers (whatever they are) was HPs problem and HP saying, of course, the problem originated from the Apple machine. The Time Capsule storage and network router, coupled with the new MacBook Pro did eventually make things run somewhat smoother. I could print right of the ‘Net whenever, although after each OS X patch or upgrade I usually had to unplug the printer and start up again.
But now a new NFL season and Macintosh OS are upon us. As I do each year near the end of summer, I print out football schedules to go up on the refrigerator and in the china closet to enhance our families TV viewing of Eagles games (for amusement purposes only). By about week nine of the NFL season the pages produced by the HP began to fade badly. I was able to get a serviceable copy of the whole team-by-team grid when I decided to remove the cartridges to shake out a bit more ink life and then re-insert.
The HPs final offering ended in odd flashing Xs and red arrows and lots of unholy swear words and the ink blackened hands that denote the misfortunes of some sort of incomprehensible user error. I’m not sure if the upgrade to OS X Lion played a part in this odd underperforming machine’s demise. The seemingly spent cartridges were abruptly sucked into the bowels of the machine, never to be seen again; pulling the device apart to retrieve them proved futile amongst all the black soot, bespeckled of cyan, yellow, and magenta.
While working out my frustrations by stuffing the dead HP into a cardboard box readied for disposal, I came up with a bit of some “thinking outside the box”. Kodak printers are not available at the online Apple Store, but they have a cool website and since nobody really buys camera film anymore the company seems to be pretty creative in transforming their business model and product strategies in ways that I’ve come to respect. Their turn around time for my email inquiry about Macintosh compatibility was lightening fast. The entry level all-in-one I ordered directly from the company was then priced at $79.00 (shipping and tax additional). They included a small fee at check out for a stack of photo paper, plus they threw in some Harry Potter art software and a couple 3-D glasses for free (3D printing seems PC only but I’m working on it). Included documetnation seems decent and clearly presented. The only hassles at installation pertained to me not having the plastic undercarriage that holds the cartridges in pushed in all the way (no surgical gloves or hand sanitizers required) and having to remember my wireless network password to complete everything.
So depending how things go, I might be finished with the Inkjet TechLords of HP, Epson, Lexmark, et al. for a while. And to celebrate my new found tech savy I am including a couple examples of original art work that I Kodak scanned recently. The first is a Greek Isles photo I had been wanting to do something with as a rainy day project for going on several years now. The second is a small acrylic on Masonite seascape by a phenomenal artist friend who graduated with me from high school. At the very bottom I’ve provided the link to the Kodak All-in-One product page. So enjoy the arts and Go Eagles! And maybe have a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit tomorrow.
My “digital postcard”
Acrylic on Masonite Panel by Carmen Simoni (smaller than actual size)