By trade I am an IT Professional.
As an IT Pro many of us tend to disagree and fight over many different things. Whether Linux, OSX, or Windows is better. Which firewall appliance, wireless access point, switch, whatever brand is better, etc. etc.
But, one thing we seem to universally agree upon is that none of us like Printers.
It’s like cats and dogs with us. Like there’s something buried deep into our industry training to teach us to really hate dealing with Printers.
It’s often made me wonder just exactly why that is that we all seem to have the same deep seated loathing of those cursed, evil devices.
Well, as is often part of my job, I was working on a Saturday this last month.
Halloween, as it happens, which was cool because I figured I could avoid all the added traffic and people out on the streets by working that evening.
No one else had to work so I had the entire office to myself. “Great”, I thought to myself. “No one to bother me and I can actually get some work done.”
As part of my projects for the day I needed to print out some documentation because for some compliance requirements we had to keep physical documentation that’s signed filled out and signed.
As mentioned above, as an IT Pro, I really dislike printing anything. I find it a huge waste of money and printers are, again, just evil devices that seem hell bent on making every job requiring them more difficult than it should be. Jams, obscure error codes for no explainable reason, paper trays suddenly ‘unavailable’ like somehow it just decided it didn’t feel like working today.
Just irritating issues for no explainable reason are often expected when dealing with printers.
Well, since this is a Saturday and I’m the only one in the office, I had this brilliant idea to decide and update the firmware and drivers for our Office Printer. I figured, hey, good time to do this because I can give this damnable thing some maintenance without affecting other users.
A mistake I still regret to this day
I navigated to the manufacturer’s website and found new firmware and a new driver for the printer that had just been updated on the downloads site today. “Good timing” I think to myself and start the download.
The office power and lights flicker as I was downloading the new files, causing my PC screen to go out briefly. “It’s pretty bad weather today, I hope the power doesn’t go out.” For god knows whatever reason, printer drivers are always huge file sizes so I was grateful to see that it downloaded successfully with that brief power fluctuation.
So, with the new files on the network I remotely log into our Print Server and update the printer driver. Surprisingly it installs totally fine. No install errors, nothing unusual. “Well, that’s cool. I expected it to be more difficult since it’s a printer.” I think to myself.
Next step, firmware upgrade on the Printer itself. I pull up the printer on my PC and send the firmware file to it, per standard upgrade process and suddenly hear an unusual grinding, almost growling, sort of noise coming from the printer in the office.
“There it is. I knew this wasn’t going to go off without a problem. Damned printers!”
I went into the office area and checked on the printer. The LEDs and screen were blinking and flashing like crazy but the odd growling noise had stopped. On the screen it said “Firmware Update Successful” so I just figured maybe that’s normal behavior for this model printer when the firmware is upgraded and I powered it off and back on.
When the printer came back up I printed out a Configuration page from the menu and everything seemed totally fine so I went back to my desk to print out the documents that I needed.
Again I heard that eerie growling noise but heard my pages printing. “Ah crap! I hate printers!” I figured it had jammed, per usual for printers. Instead on the printer was several pages of paper covered with nothing but random looking letters in what was obviously Comic Sans font and Wing Ding symbols.
“Odd, I don’t even have those fonts installed on my PC.”
The pages were just completely covered in IA!IA!WYSIWYGFHTAGN!IA!IA!WYSIWYGFHTAGN! over and over, mixed in with the Wing Ding symbols and that’s the only thing it would print no matter what document I sent to it. So, I put an Out Of Order sign on it, powered it off, and went on to other projects. Being as it IS a printer, it being out of order was plenty common to the other office workers so this would come as no surprise to anyone on Monday.
“Well, crap. Looks like I’m calling the maintenance tech on Monday”
I finished up working and headed out. Nothing else really eventful happened that night. “
Well, except for that incident at my local coffee shop that I stopped at on the way home.”
Yeah, for whatever reason, when the clerk went to print out my receipt his receipt printer made that same eerie growling noise that our office printer had made and it shredded my receipt as it printed it. “It’s never done that before.” said the clerk. I just sort of shrugged my shoulders and headed back to my apartment.
I’m really not sure why I did it, but for some reason I instinctively unplugged my home printer from the wall before I went to bed that night.
Monday rolls around and I call our usual printer service technician, Frank. He knows our office well, as I’m sure he does all his customers, since after all he repairs printers for a living so he’s a busy guy. Job Security in fixing printers since they suck so badly.
Frank powers up the office printer, just idly chatting with me about his weekend and such.
As the printer powers up he suddenly stopped in mid-sentence, kind of twitches noticeably, turns to me with this strange glazed expression on his face and says
“You have awakened the master. You will all be spooled to The Great LPD soon!”
and then just as suddenly went right back to what he was talking about as if nothing had happened.
“Ok, that was fucking weird.” I thought. Maybe he has tourettes or something.
He finished up working on the printer and got it back to working as if nothing had ever happened but the entire incident just creeped me out.
To this day, if I’m ever working in the office alone I always turn the printer off. I also decided to toss my personal home printer. Damned thing never worked right anyway.
“I really hate printers.”