photo by Sheri Dixon

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Vexation, Thy Name is Hewlett Packard 4620

So I had to buy a new printer at work.

My old printer was making tortured "electric violin in a blender" noises but that's not why I replaced it.

I replaced it because I may or may not have snapped something off during a black ink cartridge change that may or may not have caused a puddle of ink to accumulate on the floor of said printer instead of on the paper even tho the printer said, "Genuine Hewlett Packard cartridge successfully installed" as the black ink congealed on the floor of the printer, like spider blood.

I printed a test page. No black ink.

I tried to make a copy of a colorful card with black writing on it. Just a colorful card. No black writing on it.

I declared the printer dead and respectfully added it to the Dead Technology RIP closet.

An hour later I was unboxing my NEW printer/scanner/copier/faxer. This was exciting. I'd never had a fax machine in my office before. I set it up without incident and printed off board meeting notes.

Then things went awry.

I opened Quickbooks and tried to print some checks, including paychecks. No dice. Something about the font being wrong on the new printer and I needed to change it from 'settings', or 'setup', or some such. What difference does it make...really?

I opened every single screen having to do with a printer and found nothing anywhere to change the font size.

So I did what any normal, sane person would've done. I said, "Screw it" and put the checks into Quickbooks while hand writing them out, putting off any further messing with it till I got home from vacation.

I started getting disgruntled texts while on the road. Something about our main fax machine now acting all squidgy. That's the technical term. Squidgy.

Hindsightedly, it occurred to me that perhaps hooking up two fax machines to one phone line was a bad idea, but I had no conclusive facts on that idea because I hadn't actually looked in the installation guide.

It's wrapped in clear plastic and everyone knows that's hella hard to open. Hermetically sealed and whatnot. Why risk a possibly-fatal saran wrap cut?

So there was truly nothing I could do about it except commiserate with a genuinely sincere, "Wow. Really? That sucks. I'm sure I have no idea how that happened or how to fix it- have you tried plugging it into a different socket?" because I was 2,000 miles away from the clinic and the only key to my personal office was in my purse and my new fax machine was locked inside my personal office. Luckily there were fresh blueberries, and grilled chicken, and glorious company, and gentle foggy mountain scenery and a lovely white wine to distract me from my employees' misery. Life is good sometimes.

It was sort of a drag to hand write payroll, so I knew once I got home I'd have to have a Come to Jesus Meeting with the printer.

I was supposed to work yesterday from 1ish till 9ish, but stuff happened. I decided on our trip to sell out of one of the breeds of guinea pigs I've been raising for almost 20 years, posted it online two days ago and was swamped with replies. I currently have exactly four of them unsold...out of over 60. So I had people coming to the house to pick up pigs yesterday morning, and yesterday late afternoon. In between I took Edna to the eye doctor, which was a whole nuther level of stress.


"Ms. Hoskins? Are you having any trouble with your eyes?"
"Yes. They move around and I have to stop every few lines when I'm reading to get them back on track".
"Oh- you mean they seem cloudy? If you use your Systane before reading that will help".
"Well, yes- they are also a little cloudy".
"Good. The systane will help if you put it in before reading".


"Ah. I see that now. Lets run some tests".

There's almost nothing I hate more than doctors who don't freaking listen, assume they know what you're trying to tell them, phrase their response to fit the diagnosis they want to give, and move on. That shit don't fly with me.

So by 8pm I was ready and primed.

The fucking printer was next.

"You're going into work NOW???"
"Yes. The fucking printer is next".
"Oh, boy". *nervous laughter of relief that he'd be 20 miles away from the scene of the crime*

I started by removing the installation disk from my computer, uninstalling all programs having to do with the HP4620 and restarting the computer.

Cold and calculating. Exceedingly calm.

I chose "add a printer" and it asked me to insert the disk. I inserted the disk. It told me installation would be easier and faster using the online guide and since I'd used the disk before I thought I'd give this a shot.

I aborted the mission once it started asking me all sorts of non-printer-related questions and went back to "No, thanks- just use standard disk installation".

It sorta skipped and snorted and twitched, but ended up by saying "Printer successfully installed- would you like to print a test page?"

Why, yes. That would be lovely. *send*





Nothing. Lets check the little 'help' option up top of the screen.

"Are you having trouble printing?"

Yes. Yes, I am.

"Would you like to troubleshoot your printer?"

That would be freaking awesome, thanks.

--------------------- ---------------------- ---------------------------

"Your chosen printer is not set as the default printer. Would you like us to set it as your default printer?"

What do you think, computer?

--------------------- ---------------------- ---------------------------

"Could not set selected printer as default printer. Go online to troubleshoot further?"

Why the hell not?

------------------- --------------------- ---------------------------

"Can not fix this problem. We suggest the following steps-
-contact the manufacturer of the printer
-contact the manufacturer of your computer
-call a computer repair person
-ask a friend"

Are they serious??? ASK A FRIEND??? That's the most fabulously generic-yet-sincere bullshit suggestion I've ever seen in my life.

*Ask a friend*

Anyone who considers themselves my friend wouldn't have been within striking distance at that moment. I mean, they're my friends, but they all have superb survival instincts.

So I went to uninstall the program...again.

But I couldn't.

Because it was nowhere on the computer. I shit you not.

The HP4620 printer icon was in 'available printers'. It had told me, "printer successfully installed- would you like to run a test page?" So where the Sam Hell was the program???

I restarted the computer after removing the disk.

Under 'trouble shooting printers' it gave me the option of doing a 'system restore' to right before everything went to shit.

I restored said system.

Inserted the disk.

Chose "No thanks- I'll install from disk".

This time it asked me relevant questions like "Do you want to activate the fax feature at this time?" NO- NO I DON'T.

and "Do you want to make this your default printer?" FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT'S HOLY---YES!!!

"Printer installed successfully. Would you like to run a test page?"


*deep breath*



Why, yes. Yes that is a Microsoft Test page in a frame on my office wall where there used to be a photo of my family.

Why do you ask?

I was on a roll. It was 10:30pm, but I had to conquer the other side of the printer issue, which was the Quickbooks check writing font debacle issue.

I tried to open Quickbooks.

Quickbooks did not open.

I tried to open Quickbooks.

Quickbooks did not open.



I restarted the computer.

Quickbooks opened.

"Quickbooks would like to install an update that will greatly enhance your Quickbooks experience. Would you like to install update now?"


Thirty minutes later Quickbooks re-opened.

I wrote a test check.

It printed flawlessly.

Before it had time to realize what it had done, I exited the application(s) and turned off my computer.

Not restarted it. Turned it blessedly off.

The split second before the printer's display light flickered off I noticed that the black ink is already low.

I need to change the black ink cartridge.

I got home about midnight and my dreams last night were filled with puddles of congealed spider blood.

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