back to article BOFH: Free as in free beer or... Oh. 'Free Upgrade'

"I TOLD you, I HATE working on printers!" I seethe at the Boss. "It's just a bit of configuration," he wheedles, trying to make me feel better. "It's not a bit of bloody configuration, it's translation - from IT into printer manufacturer speak." The Boss is in a pickle. The printer company cretin came crawling around and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Written in anger?

    A typo here and there suggests a degree of hidden rage being tapped...

  2. Cynical Observer



    The PFY opens the window.

    I push the ladder.

    I pull the ladder.

    The PFY closes the window.

    BOFH and PFI have mastered Feng Shui for Windows?

    Either way - in recognition of the hatred of printing - on me! ----->

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Now, those printers will never get installed...

      // no defenestration icon?

    2. Captain Scarlet


      Damn forgot the windows don't open here.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Why, that's standard procedure Windows troubleshooting, isn't it?

    4. Ian Bush

      I sort of assumed

      "I push the ladder.

      I pull the ladder.

      The PFY closes the window."

      was some BoFH poetry form related to the haiku.

    5. GrapeBunch

      It's the new Open Windows Initiative that everybody's been waiting for. One of them, anyway.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The BOFH need more ladder training if he needed to push AND pull the ladder to eject a Printer Rep out of a window.!

    I find a swift Kick to the 3rd step usually does the trick. either that or a live mains cable hanging from the open ceiling tile.

    1. Cynical Observer

      Re: Training

      I find a swift Kick to the 3rd step usually does the trick

      ..Three steps to heaven..... there a song for that?

      Singing with the bleedin' Choir Eternal .. ----->

    2. theblackhand

      Re: Training

      Wasn't pulling the ladder required to retrieve the ladder sans-Printer Rep?

      If you threw away your ladder everytime you disposed of a product rep, you would end up needing a ladder rep...

    3. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      Re: Training

      " either that or a live mains cable hanging from the open ceiling tile."

      Yep. I was surprised this was a ladder incident. When I got to the part of the story where the BOFH grabbed the cables the PFY was handing down from the ceiling, I expected either electrocution or hanging for the smug little printer rep. The ladder was...unexpected.

      1. Number6

        Re: Training

        Yep. I was surprised this was a ladder incident. When I got to the part of the story where the BOFH grabbed the cables the PFY was handing down from the ceiling, I expected either electrocution or hanging for the smug little printer rep. The ladder was...unexpected.

        It shows good planning. Had the end been electrocution or hanging they would have had a body to deal with, and lifting it to throw out the window would have been more effort. Using the defenestration technique means that someone else has to clear up the mess.

        1. Montreal Sean

          Re: Training

          They already planned for the defenestration, and moved a skip beneath the window.

          And arranged for it all to happen on collection day so there wouldn't be any lingering mess.

    4. bpfh

      Re: Training

      Yep. BOFH needs more Bzzzzzert and LARTings....

  4. adam payne

    A there was me thinking everybody loved setting up new printers.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      They were Canon right? Or Samsung. Yeah, probably Samsung. Or Canon.

      1. Robert Helpmann??

        They were Canon right?

        Missed a trick there in trying to find the non-existent Linux drivers for the things.

        1. The Wegie

          Or Kyocera

          That degree of nasty brings back memories I thought I'd suppressed of trying to ride herd on an early Kyocera multifunction printer bought by a cheapskate boss because it was the cheapest on the market.

          1. Ivory Bill

            Re: Or Kyocera

            For years I kept a blacksmith's hammer which i labeled "Kyocera Repair Tool" in my office. All printers suck, but those old Kyoceras were freaking nightmares.

        2. Not That Andrew

          Re: They were Canon right?

          And if you are really "lucky" there drivers tucked away in the cavernous depths of their asian website that will only compile on and might even work occasionally on DeadRat 4.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Or Epson

        I have a super duper multi function job sat next to me with everything mentioned included - except none of it works when connected to a network, ethernet or wireless; only when it is connected to a single PC by a USB cable.

        For scans I have reverted to using my old camera and cropping the image!!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Or Epson


          And a wooden table?

      3. Donn Bly

        re: They were Canon right?

        With a password of 111111? They had to be Xerox

        1. Lee T

          Re: re: They were Canon right?

          That's 5 1's, not 6. Though that may be a typo. *cries*.

        2. Montreal Sean

          Re: re: They were Canon right?

          Nah, can't be Xerox, six times the number 1 is two digits past buffer overflow.

      4. Roq D. Kasba

        Better still, the 'El Capitan' upgrade that broke compatibility for Macs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          El Capital deliberately broke USB support

          I've even got the email from Apple where they admitted it.

          Well, "admit" is the wrong word. "Stated" that they deliberately reimplemented USB in a a different way to every other system, that while not explicitly disallowed by the standard, is the exact opposite of the technical books on the subject.

          No, not bitter. We wanted to do firmware updates anyway. Especially ones that required a Windows machine to apply the firmware update that makes it work again on the Mac.

      5. Accuran Devil

        Or Sharp... Hate Sharp printers... Would rather setup a monkey with a pencil and stencil

      6. Decade

        Or Ricoh

        Every generation of those things is bigger and has more features, but is also more complicated and fragile. The latest generation in my office comes with an entire mini-ITX PC running Windows 7 to run the print server, but it needs the original Java-based OS to run scanning and email. So, I need 2 network ports where 1 once worked, one for the built-in Java OS, one for the new mini-ITX PC.

        Also, in some situations, the PC silently discards print jobs. A Ricoh technician was here for hours, and he couldn’t figured it out.

        1. Spoonguard

          Re: Or Ricoh

          "Also, in some situations, the PC silently discards print jobs. A Ricoh technician was here for hours, and he couldn’t figured it out."

          That like eerily similar to my adventures with CUPS on Debian..

        2. Captain Scarlet

          Re: Or Ricoh

          That sounds like a Fiery print server add-on (Which a few Canons or Sharp's had here).

          Never saw the point in them so assumed they were just more expensive versions of an add-on network card.

          1. Leeroy

            Re: Or Ricoh

            The pc running windows 7 is normally only used for 'pro' machines and is over £5k extra for the basic version, please tell me it's for printing high quality jobs with colour matching and that someone had training on calibration with the photospectrometer ?

            Silently discarding jobs usually happens when usage tracking is turned on, BW has no restrictions and colour requires a pin that has to be entered into the print driver. If you don't put the correct code in the job will vanish but you can see it in the printer log. Yeah it's a bit crap. Another reason can be that the copier will only accept print jobs from the print server, configured by ip or host name. It's to help enforce the authentication on the print server and prevent people bypassing it.

            The worst thing about Ricoh is the new tablet interface with no physical buttons and a 'new and improved experience' according to BLI. Yeah we turn that crap off and thank god you can set up the old interface that Ricoh have been using for a decade.

            /Rant off. I'm back in work Monday/ Ricoh tech lol

        3. C0p3n

          Re: Or Ricoh

          "A Ricoh technician was here for hours, and he couldn’t figured it out."

          You don't say ...? Company I used to work for had a contract with them. "Ricoh couldn't figure it out" could be code for almost anything. Seems to me all they do is make sure the power is plugged in.

  5. WhoAmI?

    Sounds all to familiar

    I remember when I was a lowly help desk bod. We bought new printers from a well known company which has a large research arm in America somewhere

    New printers! Scan, fax, print, fast, A3, A4 and A5! Yummy!

    After the engineer attempted to install the first printer, I told him I wasn't going to allow him to install the rest and risk leaving the company with no high capacity printing, and that I would do it instead. I un-boxed every machine, wheeled them around the buildings, opened every machine and connected the power supply board to the rest of the printer, upgrade the BIOS, faff around with drivers, and then get them all working with our fax software (which wasn't fun)

    They worked OK after that

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Sounds all to familiar

      We bought new printers from a well known company which has a large research arm in America somewhere

      New printers! Scan, fax, print, fast, A3, A4 and A5! Yummy!

      Bet they all defaulted to 'Letter', because that was hard coded into the printer firmware and drivers - I kid not. For a well known US printer manufacturer, several years back, who's printers and drivers had exactly this feature, I went as far as creating my own set of (unsigned) drivers, just so that when users installed the drivers on their PC/laptop their printer preferences had been preset to A4 and thus avoid 'error messages' about the printers having the wrong paper loaded...

      Mind you just had another problem with another well know printer manufacturer; change the paper setting in the printer from 'plain' to any other and the user will get an error telling them the printer is loaded with the wrong size of paper!

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

        Re: Sounds all to familiar

        "'PC LOAD LETTER'? What the *fuck* does that mean?"

        1. cd / && rm -rf *

          Re: Sounds all to familiar

          "'PC LOAD LETTER'? What the *fuck* does that mean?"

          Paper Cassette, Load letter-size paper. Easy when you speak HP Pringlish. You have to remember this was the days when a single-line LED display was all the rage.

          On a slightly related tangent:

          and scroll down to "Error Messages"

          1. Down not across

            Re: Sounds all to familiar

            Paper Cassette, Load letter-size paper. Easy when you speak HP Pringlish. You have to remember this was the days when a single-line LED display was all the rage.

            Those were fun days..


            @PJL RDYMSG DISPLAY = Insert coin


            Or extra fun lock the keys with @PJL DEFAULT CPLOCK = ON

            1. Peter Ford

              Re: Sounds all to familiar

              I seem to remember setting the ready message to "OUT OF CHEESE" once... That resulted in some interesting support calls.

            2. Berny Stapleton

              Re: Sounds all to familiar

              > @PJL DEFAULT CPLOCK = ON

              Oh that's cruel... I so would have liked to have known that one in my younger years....

      2. Montreal Sean

        Re: Sounds all to familiar


        So it's your fault all those copy centre printers at Staples here default to A4 and on occasion refuse to accept any other size!

        I've lost countless hours trying to configure them to stop being A4.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Spanners Silver badge

        Re: Sounds all to familiar

        A while back, I was involved in testing Open Office. This was running the programme and seeing what was wrong with the interface etc. It was sometimes reporting things as silly as a missing full stop in a dialogue box.

        I came across someone in the USA who was about to report that it was defaulting to "non-existent or imaginary" paper sizes and units of measure, They did indeed exist and were not imaginary, Yes, the paper sizes were things like A4 and the units of measure were mm...

        There is a difference between ignorance, which can be excusable, and planned ignorance which is not.

  6. Toltec

    He forgot to mention

    the stockpile of toner cartridges for the old printers sold to them the previous week.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: He forgot to mention

      at a special discounted price, if they bought 3 years' supply at once. :-)

  7. David Robinson 1


    Nothing happens.

    1. Geoff May (no relation)

      Re: XYZZY

      Did you try plugh?

      1. Zimmer

        Re: XYZZY

        GO on, admit it, you're where's that Plover....

    2. Midnight

      Re: XYZZY

      Hello, Sailor.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    In the USA we have a simple solution to printer issues - we send them out for calibration with an AK47.

    1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      Re: Sorted

      I'd like to calibrate the vindictive b'stards that write printer drivers. To be fair they are very clever, they know through some kind of mind reading exactly what combination of colour/grey/b&w/sheet size/dup or simp/flip vert or horiz/2on1 or 1on2 etc you desire. Then carefully deliver something else no matter what settings you've used.

      1. Oblivion62

        Re: Sorted

        "Then carefully deliver something else no matter what settings you've used."

        ...that's almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea^H^H^Hthe page you first thought of.

      2. Jeffrey Nonken

        Re: Sorted

        Almost, but not completely, unlike tea.

      3. Spoonguard

        Re: Sorted

        "Then carefully deliver something else no matter what settings you've used."

        There are more ways to be wrong than right.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Sorted

      You have to rely on Russian tools to do that?

      1. WolfFan

        Re: Sorted

        The 'Russian tool' was originally German. (StG-43/StG-44/MP-44) Kalashnikov and his crew had very, very, VERY close looks at the MP-44 while designing the AK-47. In particular they looked closely at the important bit: the ammo. They also looked at another early assault rifle, the American M1 carbine (not, repeat, NOT the M1 Garand rifle, that was a full-out battle rifle, not an assault rifle) and rejected it. Mostly because of the ammo.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: Sorted

          Not as such. 'Inspired by", but not "copied off". Sergej Kalashnikov found himself facing the wrong end of the StG-44 (or 43), but was lucky enough to survive. He started thinking about the design of something similar while recovering in military hospital. The result was the 'Automat Kalashnikov', introduced in 1947 - hence AK-47.

          1. G.Y.

            Re: Sorted

            aVtomat !

        2. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: Sorted

          Yeah, the M1 thompson, while it has a rich history that put the 'roar' into the roaring 20's from it's use by gangsters, was actually somewhat tempermental regarding the magazines and drums you fed it.

          (the semi-auto versions that Kahr produced were... not much better.)

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Sorted

            You know, it always gives a bit of nagging worry that when the comments section tuns to guns, so many people with such detailed levels of knowledge suddenly pop out of the woodwork to discuss the merits of the weapons and ammo in such loving detail. I'm sort of relieved that I work out in the field and don't spend too long in any single IT office, server room or data centre. I'd hate to upset any of you guys (or gals)

            1. Disk0

              Re: Sorted

              Do you mean to imply you do not own a BFG9000? Are you sure you are an IT professional?

    3. Marshalltown

      There you go

      That is real trouble shooting, though long range with an Springfield '03 is fun too.

  9. TRT Silver badge

    Is this really appropriate...

    after the Aimee Spencer tragedy?



    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Is this really appropriate...

      No. Any BoFH story is likely to end with someone dying a horrible death in unusual circumstances and the odds are that someone, somewhere in the world, will have died in a slightly related manner within the previous week.

  10. 27escape


    PIN number, its just PIN or do the printers have helpful LCD displays on them too?

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: noooooo

      Do you mean liquid crystal LCD displays?

      1. Midnight

        Re: noooooo

        Not if they have been disabled by the electronic ECM counter-measures.

      2. John 104

        Re: noooooo

        No. He meant liquid crystal display displays.

        1. Number6

          Re: noooooo

          All old hat now, the new thing is organic OLED diodes.

        2. Bluto Nash

          Re: noooooo

          Backlit with LED lights

  11. Chris King

    Printer salescritters

    I hate it when they turn up with some new shiny that you just KNOW isn't going to integrate with the rest of your network.

    One salescritter tried to persuade me to install massive MFP's in student labs, knowing full well that anything with less armour than a battle tank isn't going to survive that environment - let alone a big, fragile white shiny with lots of trays to jam and buttons for people to mash randomly.

    The following day, said shiny turns up on the back of a truck.

    "Go on, kick the tyres and see what you think", he said to me over the phone - the usual salescritter language for "just print off a couple of test sheets and sign here".

    After he rang off, I started moving boxes of paper to where the printer was lurking.

    "Are you really going to kick the tyres ?" one colleague asked.

    "No. I'm going to smash the driver's window, break the steering lock, hotwire it, take for a few donuts round the car park and then set fire to it !"

    Poor critter nearly choked when he collected it and checked the page count.

    Hey, I needed a new set of OpenVMS and Cisco manuals, what can I say ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Buttons to mash randomly"

      I once made 2 mistakes at college because I really did not believe the IT department (or hardware manufactures) would be so naive to leave everything open to us students.

      The first one, was expecting the "number of copies" option on the printer panel would not to override our 10 copy print limit on our login on the PC printer software. 100 copies later, I guess I found a way for free copies.

      The second unrelated one was "format C:" on a stand alone pc... oops.

      The third was not a mistake it was a way for us to all play Quake. When the servers asked for our login with "accept" and "cancel" buttons, we just pressed "cancel" and so it dropped to desktop with full admin access... though we obviously had no login... ;)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    After a somewhat similar experiance I managed to talk around a chap in accounts. After seeing all of the figures he agreed that it would be cheaper to buy a large stock of second hand network printers off of eBay that use cheap replacable parts and sodding huge yet cheap cartridges. These printers do one thing (network printing) which they do quite well.

    Print costs fell from £3k per month to £3k for the entire of last year, including maintenance kits to keep the fleet working in good order.

    Last time a print management company came into my place they were a bit shocked to discover that my real world costs including parts and paper was below the "on paper" costs they were quoting.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Give me an office filled with HP42x0 or 43x0 mono printers.

      Bombproof and dirt cheap to run and good for *checks page count on the one I'm resting my feet on* just shy of 480,000 pages so far. .

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        When I started working at %company% nearly ten years ago, we had a couple 4300s in our auditing department that had 2 mil on the page counter, and they were not that old. They certainly lived up to the 200K page/month duty cycle.

      2. Montreal Sean

        I'll take a bunch of LaserJet 8000 or 8100.

        I replaced a maintenance kit on one a few months ago for a client, and it had clocked up just over 3 million pages.

        Their only complaint was that it prints a little slowly, and that I seem to replace the feed rollers a lot.

        Never breaks down though. :)

        1. GrapeBunch

          in a HALaxy far far away

          My first home-office laser printer was an HP LJ 1, in 1988. It made me classify HP as a company that produced great printers, lousy drivers. A few years later I got an HP colour laser, but it ended up printing only in magenta. On the web I found a helpful page from a fellow victim, outlining how, in about 6 hours with a great deal of care, you could restore the colour laser to HP-goodness. I decided to give the printer away, with the URL so that the next victim would know what (s)he was up against. So I revised HP to meh printers and drivers. Then I bought a cheap Lexmark. OMG, crummy printer and crummy drivers (full 100 MB package) as well. The package is intrusive and prevents printing entirely! Although to be fair, Windows networking has problems too.

          I was hoping that in this thread I'd find a printer manufacturer that, after all these decades, had learned the gentle art...but so far all I've seen is further lists of companies that haven't.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: in a HALaxy far far away

            Old printers are probably best - as the drivers are so old that they're probably built into Windows and Linux distributions.

            I'm very happy that my printer uses the built-in driver set.

            The official driver installer from the manufacturer was both huge and included several completely pointless and annoying programs.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: in a HALaxy far far away

              "I was hoping that in this thread I'd find a printer manufacturer that, after all these decades, had learned the gentle art"

              Kyocera for Mono network printers.

              1) Reasonable price, reliable, comes with duplexer as standard and lowest running costs of any printer in the size class of the printer.

              2) Good availability of good quality remanufactured/compatible toners that are as good as the originals yet a quarter of the price.

              3) Bigger capacity cartridges than most comparable competition with a lower cost as Kyocera only put toner in their cartridges, and not half the parts in the printer Yes, glaring at HP here.

              4) Generally laughs at user stupidity like feeding in paper at a 45% angle, chews up misfeeds and spits them out instead of collapsing and crying for a service engineer.

              5) The major components are designed to come out very easily and don't require any tools to remove.

              6) You can buy a maintenance kit containing every single major component and moving part in the printer, so you can do maintenance yourself without relying on an external engineer who charges more than the repair for his callout charge.

              7) When you have replaced major components then a reasonable BOFH can repair the components themselves by replacing the fuser roller for instance giving you a practically new unit for 1/10th of the cost of the entire assembly. Any of these jobs can be done easily with nothing more than a standard phillips screwdriver.

              8) Microsoft bundle a certified driver in windows, and you can get the Kycoera driver without any unwanted software which offers all of the functionality that you could want.


              While the higher printer models are great (eg, numbers starting 2*** or 4***) don't touch the 1*** series printers with a fully unreeled box of CAT5. Awful bloody things.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: in a HALaxy far far away


                Oh. Jesus. NO.

                Not Ever.

      3. Montreal Sean

        The only problem with the LJ42xx/43xx series was the swing plate gear wearing out.

        Cheap and fairly easy to fix. :)

  13. earl grey

    so, the tip is only half-full

    I expected the boss to be occupying the other half.

  14. TitterYeNot


    Reminds me of a set of extremely expensive line printers that were bought solely to print bar code cards, which were attached to the front of vehicles as they moved round the track of a well known UK vehicle manufacturer to identify their build specs. They were built like tanks, took about about an hour to set up so that they'd work with the track management system (no display, all menus and selections were printed out - GRRRRRR!!!), and were completely incapable of printing the cards without jamming up every 20 minutes and stopping the track. In the end they had to have an engineer standing by each printer just to clear paper jams, as track stoppages cost thousands of pounds.

    Why were these particular printers chosen? Lets just say that the printer manufacturer's area salesman was best man at one of the head procurement manager's wedding. The manufacturer of such wondrous devices? I shall just refer to them as Monumental-Titwank and leave it at that...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nepotism

      Is it just me (I am crap at cryptic crosswords)?

      But I am not picking up on the clue concerning the printer manufacturer.

      Or was it not a clue to their identity, just an indictment of the manufacturers capability to produce something as useful as R2-D2 without Kenny Baker sat inside?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nepotism

        I'm guessing Mannesmann-Tally

        1. Stoneshop

          Re: Nepotism

          I'm guessing Mannesmann-Tally

          Took me slightly over two seconds*

          * It's late and my brain is fried due to the current temperature and humidity..

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Montreal Sean

        Re: Nepotism

        R2-D2 was at least nice to look at.

        Can't say the same for Mannesmann-Tally printers. :)

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Nepotism

      "Reminds me of a set of extremely expensive line printers that were bought solely to print bar code cards, which were attached to the front of vehicles as they moved round the track of a well known UK vehicle manufacturer to identify their build specs."

      I had to read that twice! I had a mental image of DAF trucks racing around a track with huge line-printers attached to the front bumpers. I dunno, maybe it was some sort of creative BoFH-style stress test or something.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We've had new printers delivered here this week and the engineer buggered off without installing them, and they all need access on three sides too. I'm now suspicious of why the step-ladder has gone missing!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hopefully the engineer (or sales rep) from the company concerned had use for the ladders in the same way that "Brooks" from "The Shawshank Redemption" or Judas Iscariot did after some self analysis.

  16. Tom 7

    Only have one printer for every 100 employees.

    We do everything 'web' based that we can. Make printing difficult and you'd be surprised how little people actually need it.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Only have one printer for every 100 employees.

      I expect that if you take their computers away you'll "find" that they don't need those either. Accurately measuring the effect might be harder. It might be a benefit, reducing waste, or it might be a cost, reducing effectiveness.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have Laserjets gone out of fashion?

    Those things were built better than cars... As in, you do maintenance on them only at every 100.000 miles. And after changing their repair kit you could keep going another 100k miles of paper through it.

    Only some models, though.

    Some had stainless steel gears in them, instead of plastic. They could chew your tie and choke you before slowing down.

    Not my tie, boss' tie...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have Laserjets gone out of fashion?

      Working for HP at the time the 4 and 5 were introduced, I remover one of the R&D people from Boise (home of the LaserJet) describe the 3 series as the greatest threat to their adoption.

      1. EveryTime

        Re: Have Laserjets gone out of fashion?

        Yes. LaserJets have gone out of fashion. Try getting Windows drivers. HP solidly hates that they are still around, and are printing more reliably and at far lower cost than anything they currently offer.

        I gave away a 4200 (I think) with duplexer because it was too big. I currently have a 5MP with a JetDirect EX Plus (extra-double-plus obsolete), both entering their third decade of problem-free service. This printer has literally lasted 100x longer than a bubblejet

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Have Laserjets gone out of fashion?

          I have a 4200 with duplexer at home that I rescued from the skip when the printer service management lot took over.

          I only do a small amount of black and white printing, and have a spare cartridge - which is about the size of a small deskjet printer! Biggest print job was printing out a manual for a digital camera for my father, about 100 pages, double sided

      2. Number6

        Re: Have Laserjets gone out of fashion?

        I had a 5MP with duplexer and a 4M+ but had to leave the 5MP when I moved country. the 4M+ should have been left but accidentally got shipped but isn't much use in the US. Many years sterling service from both of them, it was a shame to lose them.

    2. 9Rune5

      Re: Have Laserjets gone out of fashion?

      "Some had stainless steel gears in them, instead of plastic. They could chew your tie and choke you before slowing down.

      Not my tie, boss' tie..."

      There are sometimes subtle differences between a 'feature' and a 'bug'.

    3. Down not across

      Re: Have Laserjets gone out of fashion?

      Not in my house they haven't.

      Ok the 4M+ is temporarily out of action as it really needs new rollers.

      The 4700 is working fine and much more economical for colour prints than various inkjets I've tried that are just always dry or out of ink when you try to print something.

    4. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      Re: Have Laserjets gone out of fashion?

      The 4000/4050 printers were good, Maybe the 4100 too. But I think it was the 4200 or thereabouts where HP changed the fuser roller sleeve from mylar to metal. They are probably more long-lasting for general printing, but not so good when you print a lot of envelopes and get the bands on the sleeve where the edges of the envelopes have eaten-off the teflon. I found a local printer-parts company that "imported" replacement sleeves (and most all the other parts) from unknown parts of China and would sell the mylar sleeves for $25. Call HP for that and they'd say "it isn't a user-replacable part, here, buy a $200 refurb fuser assembly, that's all you can get." So we saved a lot of money over the years - the mylar sleeves would get the envelope bands after 6 months or so with heavy envelope printing, but $25 would fix them right back up.

      But then HP went to metal sleeves. I could get them from the same importer for around $70, but I never could figure out how to grease them properly, and after a month or so they'd start making a horrible racket when the grease got pushed out of the way and it was metal-on-metal contact between the fuser bar and the sleeve. After that happened 3 or 4 times, I decided it wasn't worth the effort and told the users they'd have to spring for the $220 refurbed fuser from HP. I don't think the HP refurbs ever made the noise, so there was either some trick to putting the grease in, or they were using a grease that the importer couldn't supply.

      We did look at the specially modified inkjets that were made to print insane amounts of envelopes. But most of them were in the $4000+ range, which was more than anyone here wanted to spend, and it seems like the print quality wasn't too great. This was back in 2001-2004, maybe things have changed now.

      It's all water under the bridge now since we send our envelopes out for printing.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is why you're better of doing your own homework instead of relying on sales managers. In my company we have the fortune that our IT department's opinion will always outweigh that of any sales person, no matter how nice the deal seems they're offering.

    Of course it also helps that our department has a track record of carefully outweighing costs & efficiency :)

    1. thx1138v2

      Re: Homework

      But, but, but... it's a FREE upgrade.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Homework

        ... and $NEWSHINY!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is talk of kicking people off ladders not inappropriate for today?

    sorry, couldn't resist.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Erm...

      Kicking people off ladders is always appropriate.

      1. thx1138v2

        Re: Erm...

        as long as the ladder isn't damaged.

    2. maartent

      Re: Erm...

      NO, but it is highly inappropriate for IT people to work ON ladders.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Erm...

        How else do you wipe windows?

  20. Bill M

    Legacy Equipment

    Proud to say I gave up using legacy equipment like printers years ago.

    Stopped using them when I tried to change the paper in one and it took a string of engineers a touch over a month to get it to work. Even then it was never happy again.

    Getting banned from ever touching a printer for life was the best thing that ever happened to me.

  21. Roger Kynaston

    Happy days

    Not strictly a printer droids fault but ...

    I once worked at a university and a big part of the annual registration process to getting the registration form working. As they had not progressed to proper interfaces between systems the registration form was a 5 part carbon that had to be printed on some ancient serial connected matrix printers. Of course, each year they would redesign the bloody form and it was a different size every time so i had a major fight to fiddle the printer settings to work with it

    I actually suggested getting an interface between Student Records and Finance at a meeting and the head of registry went absolutely ballistic.

    I wish I had a step ladder now.

    1. thx1138v2

      Re: Happy days

      The IRS does the same with their forms in the U.S. every year. It keeps this contractor fed, turning a large PITA into a profit center.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We run a managed print company...

    ...luckily we never use them internally.

    Anon for the statement above.

  23. Efros

    I wonder

    if they have the mode our Xerox Workcentres display on a random basis, Print to æther . You know the one where you print your document and it disappears into the æther never to see the light of day, despite the fact the printer reports that is decomposing the file. Seems the decomposition goes too far with the body completely disintegrating.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wonder

      Oh God printers!

      Previously we had been supplied, on local authority contract, a printer that they promised we could have networked when our boss felt able to take this big jump and our network people could do the requisite connecting up.

      But of course, when they tried it didn't work.

      Eventually after a year or two of an-and-off attempts they admitted that there was no network card in there and by then the machine was obsolete or something and they couldn't add one.

      The next was a Xerox, with all the bells and whistles above. Getting them actually working at all took months. And then, there was no way to identify users on the network from their log-ins, so an identity had to be created for each, and that had to be inputted on a tiny LCD screen one person at a time.

    2. Marshalltown

      Re: I wonder

      Hmmm, at a local hospital a staff member received a call from a citizen living some 30 miles away - (50 km to those who don't travel in miles). It seemed that the said citizen's fax machine had begun spewing out the medical records of a patient at the hospital. The staff member receiving the call inquired and was interested to learn that the patient's records were *supposed* to have been printed out for a "hand carry" to a consulting doctor. The paper had never emerged from the printer.

  24. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Hah. We use Konika Minoltas at work. Contract with the printerer company was due for renewal, my Boss and myself looked around for something better than those Minoltas,and found it. Think it was Toshiba, where your print jobs can follow you wherever you are, and a great central console management function.

    Until new Minoltas got wheeled into the building... Started to ask what was going on, seemed the CFO renewed the contract without informing IT of that.

    More expenses just to get the minoltas to do what we want. Aint life great?

    1. nichomach

      We use KMs

      ...with Papercut, and they work fine. Scan to email, SMB, prints follow you around etc. Thoroughly popular system.

  25. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    "No need to be like that!" the cretin sniffs, climbing the ladder.

    The PFY opens the window.

    I push the ladder.

    I pull the ladder.

    The PFY closes the window.


    1. thx1138v2

      XD or XPD?

  26. J. Cook Silver badge

    Ah, printers. brings back so many memories...

    I've been on a couple sides of printers: as the service droid, the poor IT droid who's tasked with front line maintenance before calling the vendor's service group, and the network admin who's tasked with making sure the bells whistles and gongs all play nicely with our network.

    The older, non-MFP monochrome HPs are still my favorite of all the machines I've worked with. (the old-skool laserjet4/5 and the 4100-4350s mostly.) Canon imagerunners are tanks once they are set up, but it's the setting up and requisite chicken waving with finding the right drivers that drove me nuts as the frontline support droid tasked with getting it up and running. The LDAP lookup on it is a bit squirrely, but it (mostly) worked once you figured out the exact setting strings to feed it. (the web interface on it was kinda meh.

    Any color laser printer? Anymore I'll just NOPE right out, especially when you either hear the phrase 'all the replaceable parts are also all classed as consumable parts' and the repair bill is nearly 4 digits because you had to swap out *every* consumable to track down a rogue print quality issue before finally discovering the problem lies with the last consumable you've replaced on it. (instead of it being the first thing swapped out, because it was also the most expensive stand alone consumable that usually lasts for half the printer's expected service life. Stupid Xerox.)

    The tektronix (ne Xerox) phasers were *awesome* printers... once you got past the outrageous purchase and consumable cost, the 20 minute startup/shutdown time, and that it ate a full set of those crayons during the startup process. Beautiful printer and fantastic output, also assuming some numpty didn't mash one of the crayons into the wrong damn slot...

    Lexmarks were... ok, as long as you understood the quirky way they were put together, and didn't mind having an entire spare printer to swap in when the first one breaks down. Dells were just re-badged lexmarks with all the same quirks, and the additional downside of having a non-lexmark firmware on them.

    As far as MFPs, The hp M3035mfp was... decent enough, as long as you used it like a lightweight copier. (see above mini-rant on the canon imagerunners)

    1. Efros

      Re: Ah, printers. brings back so many memories...

      +1 on the phasers, we still have 2 of them running on our building, 10 years old and still producing quality prints with no fuss.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah, printers. brings back so many memories...

      Lexmarks in our places cost some X, and the toner cost X/2. Our immediate boss didn't take long to chuck them into the bin when he found that 2 toner carts had the cost of the printer.

      And then he told the middle-manglement to FUCK OFF when they found out. WITH THOSE WORDS. And that was the last time manglement decided which kind of printer was chosen JUST based on unitary cost, instead of running cost.

      The director found it, and fried the middle-manglement schlob for his troubles after my brass-balls boss explained the whole thing.

      He became head of IT in zero time, and never a disposable Lexmark dared to defile those halls again.

  27. thx1138v2

    If only...

    more offices had windows that open the gene pool would be in considerably better shape.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: If only...

      They used to, but the lawsuits eventually made them the way they are today.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: If only...

        Hm. A useful upgrade to windows.

  28. SleepGuy


    Sounds like the typical RIcoh/Lanier crap that keeps getting dumped on us. Thanks a lot operations.

  29. John Tserkezis

    I used to work on printers for a living..

    Just saying... A community service announcement you see.

    I take handfulls of toxic drugs today, they claim it's for other stuff, but the last remaining bit of my brain remembers they're mostly to keep me sane. The rest are just for fun, except they're not fun.



    1. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: I used to work on printers for a living..

      Printers are made of compressed misery, and filled with liquid evil.

  30. Disk0

    Сфзшефдшые Фьфеугкы

    Шт Кгыышфб зкштеук сфдшикфеуы нщг!

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Сфзшефдшые Фьфеугкы

      An old Epson?

  31. chivo243 Silver badge

    Vujà dé?

    Simon must have been a fly on the wall in my office. We suffered a "similar" episode. It took weeks of fiddling to get the system up and configured to our needs. The vendor gets a call once a week to find out why bla bla doesn't yada yada...

    Here's to team work--------------->

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spies everywhere!

    Oh, man... this has to land just 2 weeks after I get the printer to succeed when scanning to email by disabling SMTP authentication. God only knows what changed in the 10 days on the log between it-was-working and it-snot-working but it certainly wasn't the firmware.

  33. wjake

    How did you all miss this?

    "We sold your contract on" he admits with the smugness that only comes from a watertight signed contract. "We had another more important customer who wanted your existing printers and these were the only things we could lay our hands on at short notice.

    Which can only mean, the other customer didn't want these POS printers, so we have to come steal yours!

  34. ecofeco Silver badge

    Goddamn goddamn goddamn printers

    Why are printers so fucked up? Why? There is no reason they should be so hard to set up and run. There is no reason the drivers should be 100s of megs. There is no reason the controls should require a degree in dead ancient languages and aberrant psychology.

    It's just a printer, not the fail safe controls for a nuclear power plant!

    FFS! And manufacturers wonder why they can't sell more? But then, it's the same problem with many products.

  35. Medixstiff

    Canon and error #99

    Seriously Canon, why can't you implement a system like HP, where if the printer drivers and trays are set to A4 and someone gets a document from the US with letter, it just friggin' prints to A4?

    Why is it that after 6+ years of using your UFR II driver, did we find we have to figure out how to get PCL working without it literally wiping out text from PDF's our systems generate? (that one was fun considering they were legally binding contracts we were printing.

    Or even funnier, they used to have this wheel displaying the paper size on each tray, on our previous printers, if a staff member bumped the wheel, the MFP would throw up error #99 NG (would you believe it stands for "No Go") and we would look all over the place for jammed paper in the tray, in the MFP, scratch our heads, power cycle the unit, try again, try different documents, swap trays, tell Canon it works with the tray swapped, they would get a tech to site and he would re-position the wheel and it would work.

  36. Herby

    They are a bit fussy at times.

    I have a friend that has a large format (36 inch wide) that he uses to print posters. One day the "factory rep" showed up to do some P.M. and in the process ripped the transfer belt. This was a brand new printer and one of the only ones in the Southern California (L.A.) area. My friend decide that this droid would NEVER come within sight of the printer. It was the printer that was driving his business, and having out of commission for any amount of time meant a loss of BIG BUX! He wasn't very happy.

    Unfortunately the printer was on the ground floor, so ladder trick probably wouldn't have worked.

  37. Jyve

    Printer fun over the years

    Hate them.

    My first 'real' IT job, I was made it feel /really/ useful when told by my boss how just ONE of these high capacity printers cost more than twice my salary.

    I did get /some/ small measure of satisfaction a few weeks later when it ran out of toner in the middle of some /pretty/ vital work being unable to be done (would have been huge fines if regulators found out about the documentation not actually existing at certain times).

    The guy flying down the M6 to get to us was MIA. He later turned up swearing blind that he'd been stopped by the police for speeding and that's why he wasn't here on time. Another Boss who'd chosen these printers and was having doubts now about going against the advice of the techs was starting to get twitchy about everything and was getting annoyed with the continued problems "they stopped you for 5 hours? you must have been /really/ zooming along". "well... there were roadworks too" "yes, yes, of course, strange we came that same route this morning and didn't see them".

    To be fair, the boss did make a valid point "why do you only turn up to replace the toner when it says empty?" "there'd not be much point replacing a half full cartridge, they're not cheap" "I don't think you understand, why only when it says empty? Can we get a few more spares" "well, you need to go through training to be able to configure these things..." "a printer cartridge? really?" "yes, they're more complex than you think..." "ok, ok, but why only 'empty', it'd be like having a car that had a petrol tank gauge that only flashed empty when you're suddenly coasting to a stop because you've ran out of fuel 'yeah, thanks, I know that now' so why.." "well, it's all networked, but you chose not to get THAT option..." "Don't even start... you're saying we can only find out if the printer cartridge is nearing empty if we spend another few k? And why does it do the same for the paper bins too? Can't we get a display showing a rough %? Like how a car petrol tank shows half empty?" "Too complex..."

    At that point, as struggling with the cartridge, he dropped it. It cracked open. And a huge mushroom cloud of toner slowly went up, to be caught by the server room's out-gassing vent (if not the right name, but the vent at the top where all the heat was sucked out into the large machine room).

    There was a covering of toner of the guy, the printers, everything in a line even reaching the window. To avoid A) laughing B) an asthma attack, I ducked out of the room.

    We ended up with a few spares of the cartridges and got the cleaning crew to replace them/the paper if the 'test print' looked a bit washed out and the paper bin looked a bit empty.

  38. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    Ah, the memories

    Back in '99, when I got the current gig, our accounting and Student Info System was a conglomeration of DOS executables written in COBOL. At that time, I think we had maybe 2 laser printers on campus, neither of which was usable by that steaming pile of COBOL. But what WAS usable was a mid-range dot-matrix that was shared by several departments and had three paper input paths - two tractor feed and one friction feed, if memory serves. One tractor feed had wide green-bar, one had a pre-printed form (may have been carbonless copy), and the friction had plain 8.5x11 white fanfold. So as the Business Office and Regstrar did their printing during the day, we'd get pop-up notices from the Novell print queue to go change the "active" paper in the printer. Seems that part couldn't be automated for some reason, so we'd have to go park the paper that was in the path, then change over to whatever the path was that it wanted. I seem to recall there was a certain sequence that had to be followed when changing the paper path or kittens would die. There may or may not have been chickens involved. No goats though.

    If I'm sounding vague about this (I don't even remember the printer manufacturer, much less the model), it's because we only did it for the first 3 months after I was hired, then we switched to a different system that could print to locally attached printers at each PC. All I really remember is that printer was a complete bitch to work with, and when it ran out of paper, there was much cussing to be heard when getting the new box started. And the boss at the time was a skinflint who didn't want ANY of those precious blank sheets of paper wasted. I will admit, without the faintest hint of nostalgia, that I don't miss those days in the least.

    (and for the record, I like COBOL, just not that system)

  39. TRT Silver badge

    I used to run...

    an Indigo digital press Eprint 1000. Great beast. And it worked a lot of the time. But when it didn't... Graaaahhh!!!! FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUU.....

  40. E 2

    Seems like a fail.

    They killed the printer cretin, OK. But they're still stuck supporting the printers.

    Seems like a fail.

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