Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pulling the Plug

I was struggling with my Hewlett Packard printer, copier, scanner. It all started a couple of weeks ago when I had to change the color ink cartridge. The first printer I had was a Cannon, and I always dreaded changing the ink cartridges for the Cannon. It was messy, and required commodious resetting of the printer. Well, that dread has persisted, and, although changing the cartridges in the HP PCS is not hard, it evokes an emotional response from me that is illogical, and, up until now, uncalled for.

So, as I said, a couple of weeks ago, I had to change the color ink cartridge. Although I had the correct cartridge as identified by number, the message from the printer was that the cartridge was not the correct one. I double checked, and number on the box, the number on the cartridge and the number on the printer all matched...But the message persisted. After trying several jigglings and wigglings, I turned off the printer, turned it back on, and was able to have the printer do the self test and align cartridge test. And print what I needed to print: a card. About a week later, I had a project consisting of printing about 25 post cards. I made mistake after mistake that I attributed to user error but maintained, unfrustrated.

Sunday, the 9th of March, I tried to work on another project: but the HP PCS informed me the color printer not the correct one. I tried the jiggling and wiggling trick, the shut the printer off and turn it on trick, but nothing. Just an awful noise, and the paper would not feed correctly....

Okay, so now I was frustrated. So much so I could not do anything more with the printer that day. But I decided okay, there is the possibility I got a bad cartridge. Replacing a cartridge is certainly less expensive than replacing a PCS. So, Monday, after work, I purchased another cartridge. After loading it into the machine, I had the same results. I tried the jiggling and wiggling trick, the shut the printer off and turn it on trick, but nothing...

I did not think I would end up with two faulty cartridges... What are the odds?

I was about to walk away from the printer, frustrated, when I remembered my very own saying about electronic equipment: "When all else fails, pull the plug."

Pulling the plug is something I learned in the early 1990s, long before I had a computer. At that time I had an AT&T (that's how old this equipment was, before AT&T equipment became something else) LED answering machine. I did not want an LED answering machine: when I replaced my answering machine, which had a mini-cassette cartridge, I wanted another one just like it: there was a LARGE red light on it, that blinked when I had a message. The mini-cassette cartridge kept the message even if the machine was unplugged, or the power went out... But, I could not find one like that....

So, I opted for a cordless phone LED answering machine combination. It had a tiny, tiny little light that blinked when I had a message, but the light was hardly noticeable... I did not like it. And, I did not like the interminable number of "beeps" before the caller could leave a message. I called customer service, and learned the interminable beeps was a flaw in this type of equipment... But, to reset the "chip" in this equipment, it needed to be unplugged for about 2 to 3 minutes. It worked. The number of beeps decreased... I had to do this regularly, because for this answering machine, every time someone called and hung up, the beeps increased. Evidently, telemarketers hang up when they hear the beeps, because almost every day, the number of beeps increased. But I had very few telemarketer messages. (What a wonderful way to discourage telemarketers, that piece of equipment had a saving grace.)

Actually that piece of equipment had two saving graces: I learned about pulling the plug. Just shutting off the equipment does not work. Actually disconnecting it from the power source was the key, and still is. Over the years, with computers, printers, DVD players, or what have you, this trick has worked. It has worked with the very expensive office printers at work. It has worked with my wireless network, when it needs to be rebooted, only both the modem and the router need to be unplugged. It worked when I dropped my television (don't ask) and although the television still worked, the color was off. The instructions said that when the color was off because of a changed electro-magnetic field, (what possessed me to read the instructions?) to "degauss" the TV, unplug the set for 30 minutes. Thirty minutes was not long enough, but overnight worked. What possessed me to think overnight would work? Who knows?

Well, degaussing a TV because the color is off is not remotely akin to replacing a color cartridge of the correct size, twice, in an HP PCS, only to have it not work and make an awful noise when I tried to print. It sounded like something physical was wrong. But, pulling the plug is a lot less expensive than buying a new PCS (or even a new cartridge, darn it.) So, pull the plug I did..

Lo and behold, the printer worked as it should: it printed in color, it did not make an awful noise, the paper fed correctly... I do not know why pulling the plug worked. But it did....Ah, the mystery of it.



Blogger linda said...

I learned this with my laptop, too - although with that you have an additional step after pulling the plug. You have to open it up underneath and remove the battery... and then it was able to compose itself and start anew!

Great metaphor for life in there. Thanks for sharing.

May 07, 2008 10:28 AM  

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