Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Curmudgeon installs a new printer

The time stamp on this post will tell you that I was in the office before 9:00 a.m. this morning, and it's no lie.

I was actually here before 8:00 a.m.....

It all started last Friday. I had a lot of work to do and high hopes of getting some work done before the weekend craziness. Thursday afternoon, since my printer ink supplies were getting low, I restocked.

Anyone with an inkjet printer knows that the cost of replenishing the ink is equal to, and sometimes greater than, the cost of a new printer. And there are some other hard and fast rules, too:
  • No two inkjet printers take the same size refill cartridges;
  • Inkjet printers are so cheap that, when they fail, they are never worth the cost of repairing; and
  • Inkjet printers will fail unexpectedly, usually when you have a lot of work to do and never until after you've stocked up on new ink cartridges.
And now you see my situation on Friday. To summarize, I tried to print a single page letter and fax cover sheet for about five hours before I admitted defeat and headed home.

Long Suffering Spouse said I looked numb, like I was in shock. But I roused myself to get out to the store on Friday night to buy a new printer.

I had sought a new printer on Friday afternoon, mind you, in the course of my five hour try-to-print-one-stinking-letter odyssey, but all the stores downtown were selling "all in ones" -- printers, fax machines and scanners. I already have a dedicated scanner and my fax machine is in the office kitchen. I just wanted a printer -- but nothing was available beyond the toy printer stage that I could carry across the Loop back to my Undisclosed Location. So I had to go by car.

My plan was to take my new machine into the office on Saturday and install it.

But I could not face the task. And there were many things to do at home. And I knew I could always come in on Monday.

My mother-in-law plans her Christmas Eve dinner months ahead of time. It would be an exaggeration to claim that she has begun preparations for 2008 already -- but she will start them soon. Thus, I was obliged to decide, weeks ago, that I would not be going into the office on Monday and, with that declaration, dinner was moved up to 2:30 p.m.

I had once again failed to correctly forecast the future.

I took Youngest Son with me on Monday morning. He came as security, of a sort, that I would return promptly and certainly in time for dinner. Also, Youngest Son could carry the large printer box into the building in which my Undisclosed Location is situated whilst I went and parked the family van.

Physically, the installation was a snap. Oh, I had to buy a different cable and all that, but I had other errands to run Downtown anyway and we were set to begin the installation routine shortly after 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning.

The installation program cautioned that anti-virus software might slow the installation routine and might result in a number of pesky questions about whether to allow access to the Internet during the installation. The program suggested that I answer all such inquiries in the affirmative. I was perfectly willing to accept that advice but, in the event, I was never required to act upon it.

The installation program also warned that sometimes -- sometimes -- an active anti-virus system might cause the installation to fail.

But I am a cautious person. I did not immediately turn off the anti-virus because I am connected here at all times to the scary, scary Internet and I would not want my computer hijacked by pornographers or Nigerian exiles while I was innocently engaged in the installation of a new printer. I figured that if the pesky access questions became too pesky, then I could temporarily disable the anti-virus software.

But, alas, as I have already disclosed, the questions never came. The installation proceeded in seeming good order... and then it failed. An ominous message flashed on the screen that the computer would shut down in 45 seconds... 44... 43....

Unhappily, when this computer shuts down and restarts, one has time to read the morning newspaper, have a cup of coffee, and go out for breakfast. And I had already done all these things on Monday morning. But the computer shut down anyway.

And when it shut down, and rebooted, the install routine began again. This time, however, it did not get nearly so far before the ominous shut down screen again sprang to life. By this point I noticed that the little anti-virus icon on the lower right hand corner of my screen was festooned with an 'x' in a red circle, suggesting, I thought, that the computer had disabled the program on its own. I let it restart again... and now the install program started... and hung.

I don't know how many times this happened. I lost track. I lost patience. I nearly lost my mind. I soft-booted. I hard-booted. I manually restarted the install program. I eventually removed the install disk from the disk drive. I searched in vain for some uninstall program... but the installation had not progressed so far as to install the uninstall.

Eventually, however, while I was on the phone with Long Suffering Spouse during the noon hour -- she had noted the time, as I feared she would, and was pointing out that I had brought lunch for neither myself nor Youngest Son -- a new screen came up. This one said that I could uninstall by clicking this button... and when I did so the computer would have to restart. Again.

By the way, do not feel sorry for Youngest Son in all this: He spent most of the morning sleeping in a chair in my office. At other times, he slept on the floor.

I was quite jealous.

But, now, finally, the endless loop seemed broken. And when the computer finally restarted... finally... restarted... I disabled the anti-virus and only then inserted the install disk back in the disk drive.

Hurrah! The installation program began as it had begun only on the first try, and never since, and the percentage of installation completion began to grow. Youngest Son, awake now, perched over my shoulder to watch the number climb... and then we were at the point where the program had hung the first time... and then we were past it! Finally!

And then the computer announced that the installation was complete... and that I must restart. Again.

Yes, this is repetitive. But you're supposed to be laughing at my frustration. And lack of technical skill. And I'm supposed to be laughing with you... even if I'm still crying on the inside. And all the while Youngest Son was telling me what I already knew: "Mom," he said, over and over again, "is going to kill you."

Well, I thought, when the computer was finally back up and running, I should print a test page. Just to be sure. And I should register the new device. I printed the test page without incident. The registration process failed....

But here is the important thing: I made it home by 2:00 p.m. I was already dressed for dinner. Youngest Son dressed hurriedly. And we beat Long Suffering Spouse's sister and her family to Abuela's house. So it all worked out well in the end.

On Monday.

Which brings us to this morning. At just before 8:00 a.m., when I arrived.

The computer announced that there were printer software updates available. (Mind you, it had said there were none available on Friday.) I looked at the list -- and one would (allegedly) help me complete the registration process. O joy!

I clicked to begin installing the updates.

And then the computer said I would have to restart to make the changes effective.


But here we are now -- I've vented my spleen and I am now ready to begin my day's work.

If today were Friday. Last Friday.



Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

don't you just HATE it when that happens???

smiles, bee

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Installing a new printer is risky over Christmas in case something goes wrong.

susan said...

The pain and agony of installing a printer should be on that list of the most stressful events one can face, right up there between divorce and new child. Your retelling, however, is as hysterical as always!

Lahdeedah said...


and that is PRECISELY why, on Friday, when my lap top became my 'work' computer (yes, I said, work... i have temp work... weee) and I realized I would need to move the upstairs printer and install it on my laptop, I chose...


Not too.


Jeni said...

If/when the printer/scanner/copier thing I currently have here decides to fritz out on me, I'll be posting a comment to you then for the name brand of this printer you bought and installed -just so I can be sure to NEVER buy one like that! Murphy and his freaking law rules supreme -but you knew that before hand and now, you have ultimate confirmation of that too -and for all the world -or the internet -to see! Glad you finally got things up and running but probably not nearly as happy as you are, huh?

Ralph said...

How did the barristers get any litigating done before the advent of modern technology?

katherine. said...

I'm looking for a new laptop...sigh....

sari said...

i started to get a headache just reading that. glad it finally worked!

The Beach Bum said...

This blog inspired my Blog of the Day!

The Beach Bum